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Full text of "John Percyfield : the anatomy of cheerfulness"

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JOHN PERCYFIELD: The Anatomy of 
Cheerfulness. Crown 8vo, $1.50. 

EDUCATION AND THE LARGER LIFE. 
Crown 8vo, $1.30, net. Postpaid, 5i43. 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & COMPANY, 
Boston and New York. 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 

t^t ^natoms of Ctieerfulneds 



BY 



C. HANFOKD HENDERSON 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

(Cbe mitieri^ibe l^tt^^y Cambridge 

1903 



COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY C. HANFORD HENDERSON 
ALL BIGHTS RESERYED 



Published March^ iqos 



TO CHARLOTTE WITH 
MARGARET'S PERMISSION 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. The Chateau de Beacj-Rivage 1 

n. The United Kingdom 22 

III. Moonlight 51 

IV. Illusions 95 

V. In the Drawing-Room. . . . . , .114 

VI. An I^tude of Bebtini's 144 

Vn. Cross Roads 169 

VIIL Sunshine 203 

IX. Indoors 240 

X. Margaret 280 

XI. The Undiscovered Country 306 

XII. An Unusual Honeymoon 331 

XHL The Great Republic 349 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 

CHAPTER I 

THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

It is with no little satisfaction, I confess, that for 
the past four months I have been writing "Chateau 
de Beau-Rivage " at the top of my letters to Charlotte. 
Charlotte, you must know, is my younger sister, to 
whom I write about everything that happens to me. 
She is altogether the most charming little sister that 
ever a man had, a very proper and sedate young lady 
when occasion demands ; but at heart a jolly youngster, 
a camarade of the first order. I suppose that 's what 
Frederic thought, the villain, when he came along and 
maiTied her. 

The Chateau is delightful. It is not that the es- 
tablishment is elegant. On the contrary, it is a great, 
bare place that might almost be considered uncomfort- 
able by those who love upholstery. But it has a charm 
about it that you don't get with newer buildings. The 
charm has been gathering at the Chateau for upwards 
of four hundred years. Things that do improve with 
age seem to improve prodigiously. I wonder how it 
was with Methuselah. If he got better and better 

1 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



each year, he must have been uncommonly civil before 
the end came. But it is n't that way with my aunt 
Percyfield. Perhaps she has n't started yet. 

I often feel grateful to the old duke of Savoy who 
took it upon himself to build the Chateau, and selected 
this particular spot for the building of it. I can 
fancy that in his day the immediate neighborhood was 
something quite different from what it is now. Where 
I see fields and vineyards, rambling granges and stiff 
new villas, the old duke probably saw an almost un- 
interrupted forest. I would give him all the villas 
and welcome. In place of the hard, macadamized 
road, where the Chatelaine and I go spinning along 
on our wheels, there was probably a rough forest path, 
where the duke's horse had to pick careful way of a 
dark night, and where he himself had to grasp both 
sword and reins. I like to fancy that the old garden 
was also planned by the duke, and that the stately 
Lombardy poplars which are now our special pride 
and delight — or, perhaps, their ancestors — may have 
been set out at his bidding. I picture them as shelter- 
ing a suitable promenade for the morning walk of the 
duke's young wife, the lovely Margherita. 

But however different the immediate surroundings 
may have been, the great features remain the same. 
There was the same turquoise-blue lake ; the same 
range of Juras opposite ; the same bold Voirons and 
Saleve ; the same eternal whiteness of Mont Blanc ; 
the same deep blue sky, and the same possible heaven 
beyond it. These things have not changed, though I 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

dare say we look at them all with such modern eyes, 
such enlightened eyes, that we gather a totally dif- 
ferent impression from the one made on the old duke 
when he first settled upon this site for his Chateau and 
mine. I suppose, in his pride, he looked forward to a 
long succession of little dukes of Savoy, and did not 
foresee democracy and the installation of an American 
in the best room of the Chateau. But, dear me, how 
could he ? America was then only a name, a place for 
young blood to go and work off some of its heat, and 
about as interesting, doubtless, to the old duke as Ma- 
tabeleland is to us. I will warrant that Charlotte 
does not even know where the latter is, if she has at- 
tended lectures at Bryn Mawr. 

And the city was there, over across the lake, sedate, 
brave Geneva, with its stirring history present and to 
come — a much smaller city, of course, but still large 
enough to send its cheery lights across the water of 
an evening to him as it does even yet to me. And 
there was the same pure, intoxicating air and the same 
splendid, warm sunshine. 

I cannot help wondering if the old duke were as 
happy here as I am, and if he loved the sweet, young 
wife with half the ardor that I love Margaret. 

I am glad he was not a stem old Calvinist, given 
to reforming Unitarians and Jews by sending them 
straight home to their Maker. I prefer to think of 
him as a gentle soid, loving God and the neighbor and 
not too curious about the heart's inner beliefs. 

I think it was Ruskin — and Charlotte will know 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



better if I am wrong — who said that a house is not 
interesting until it is five hundred years old. I am as 
fond of Ruskin as Charlotte is, but I do think that he 
went in a bit for exaggeration. It gives one a curious, 
jolty feeling to read "Unto This Last," or "Fors 
Clavigera," or " The Eagle's Nest," immediately after 
some writer of more precise vocabulary, such as John 
Stuart Mill. It catches the breath, as if one's mare 
had cleared a wider ditch than usual, or taken a five- 
rail fence. And if you don't know what this sensation 
is, you have still something to live for. I have calcu- 
lated — by methods which might not pass muster at 
the American Association — that forty per cent, of 
what Ruskin says is true, and that sixty per cent., to 
put it gently, is somewhat beyond the mark. And yet 
I must add that the forty per cent, is so very true, so 
vitally true, that it has given me a greater uplift than 
the unadulterated truth of more precise writers. I 
have noticed the same thing in people. I know a 
woman whose " facts " I always scrutinize and never 
quote, but who has told me more truth than ever I got 
out of the " Public Ledger." 

Cutting down Mr. Ruskin's figures at the rate I 
have hit upon, it would seem that a building two hun- 
dred years old may be interesting, and that would 
make my Chateau doubly interesting. It is good for 
as many more years. I often look at its solid walls 
and towers, and think that it will long outlive many 
of the smart-looking houses that I have been more 
luxurious in and much less satisfied with in America. 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-EIVAGE 

The Chateau calls out a deal of reverence on my part. 
To have withstood time and tide for four centuries, and 
to have come out of it so erect, so beautiful, so sweet 
and integral a part of the dear mother earth, is no 
small accomplishment. Charlotte need not laugh and 
twit me with being sentimental, for it is a precious 
sight better than she and I will ever do. And then 
Charlotte herself lives in a pressed-brick front on 
Walnut Street. So I know well what her laughter 
means. It means sour grapes. 

The straight, macadamized road that runs from the 
lower village to the neighboring estate of Monsieur du 
Chene, and then turns at right angles under those 
splendid old beech trees up to the grande route to 
Duvaine, passes back of the Chateau and really very 
near it, but the greenery is so thick that in summer 
time, at least, you might go up and down the road a 
dozen times and never know that the Chateau was 
there. I like this nearness and remoteness. It is 
like a friend whose hand you may take any day, but 
the inner recesses of whose spirit you may only dis- 
cover with friendly seeking. It is so with Margaret. 

In the case of the Chateau, the hand held out to the 
public is a shabby wooden gate, opening directly on 
to the highway. The path leading down to the Chateau 
is trim and weU kept. It is covered with little pebbles 
about the size of a robin's egg^ and if the soles of 
your shoes are rather thin, as American soles are apt 
to be, you will likely walk as if you were treading on 
eggs. We who live at the Chateau wear such heavy 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



shoes tliat the most Cinderella-like step can be heard 
from one end of the great drawing-room to the 
other. 

The path winds through the greenery, and lands 
you, I had almost said precipitates you, so sudden is 
it, at one side of the courtyard. The courtyard is 
also paved with robin's-egg pebbles, and is inclosed 
on three sides by the Chateau itself, and on the fourth 
by the tangled wall of greenery which separates it 
from the road. The courtyard is oblong, with the 
wings of the Chateau forming its shorter ends, and the 
main building and the greenery its longer sides. It 
always seems to me very free and open, but this must 
be due to the roof of blue sky, for, in reality, the 
courtyard is very much inclosed. Besides a little 
wicket gate, leading off to some miscellaneous build- 
ings whose original usefulness has long since been 
forgotten, there are but two openings from the court- 
yard, the one in the greenery that admits the path, 
and a splendid archway that passes under the centre 
of the main Chateau, and leads to the beautiful old 
garden beyond, and to the stiU more beautiful Lac 
Leman. 

It is a picture to look through this archway of a 
sunny afternoon, and to see the coat of many colors, 
which nature, like Joseph, seems always to be wear- 
ing. There are roses and great dahlias, and chrysan- 
themums of every hue. There are cropped sycamores 
guarding the paths like so many giant umbrellas, 
their leaves all shades of golden brown and yellow, 

6 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

vivid green and autumnal scarlet, veritable umbrellas 
of Cashmir. There are rows and rows of Lombardy 
poplars, fuU of years, but still erect as sentinels, with 
their gray-green leaves rustling and shining in the 
sunny air, their trunks made emerald by the luxuri- 
ant encircling ivy. There is the quiet, land-locked 
pool into whose clear waters one would so like to 
plunge in spite of its being October. Then beyond, 
there is a wall, and over that another world of beauty, 
the bluest of lakes, as blue as Charlotte's eyes, and 
quite as likely to have unwary youths a-drowning in it. 
Now it is a sea of cobalt, sparkling and glistening in 
the sun. Across the lake there is the gay parterre of 
the Swiss coast, the Chateau where Madame de Stael, 
with Soubtful taste, used to pine for Paris, and back 
of it aU, the purpling gray of the Juras, stretching 
away in great earth-curves from the Dole to the un- 
known east, and the unknown west. Above, there is 
the sky, a paler blue than the lake, but impenetrably 
deeper, and flecked now with foamy clouds. 

It is a garden full of resources. One can never 
exhaust it, for different corners of it respond to differ- 
ent moods, and so one's explorations seem never to 
come quite to an end. When I am tired of the formal 
alleys where my duke and lady used to walk, I have 
the orchard, with its thick carpet of green grass, or I 
can cross one of the stone bridges over the pool, and 
wander along the shore of the lake. There it is dif- 
ferent every day : sometimes a glassy mirror, full of 
reflections and of sheen ; sometimes a sparkling sea 

7 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of color, with the sunbeams scattered riotously ; some- 
times cold and gray, with the white caps rolling threat- 
eningly ; but always different, and whether riotous or 
placid, sunny or grave, full of an undeniable attraction 
all its own. To live near anything so big and alive, 
so rich in moods and possibilities, as a lake or a soli- 
tary mountain, is to come to love it profoundly. It 
is different with a range of mountains. One has a 
neighborly feeling for them, can even grow very fond 
of them, but never quite fall in love with them. It 
would be like falling in love with a whole family. I 
feel that way about the Juras opposite. I should miss 
them sadly if some morning they failed to emerge 
from their purple mist, and I knew that they had gone, 
but I should not be entirely desolated. The lake, 
however, is an individual, and I love it. 

There are people who remind me of mountain 
ranges, they are so big and so broad and so admira- 
ble. They seem to sum up in their own person the 
qualities of a whole race. I always admire them tre- 
mendously, and even think at a distance that I should 
like to imitate them, but I never love them. It is 
the unique people, the Monadnocks, the Grandfather 
Mountains, the Tacomas, the Mont Blancs, even the 
^tnas, that take my heart. 

I always think of Margaret in comparison with the 
Jungf rau, not the Jungfrau when it is veiled in mist, 
or even when its snowy bosom stands out cold and 
white against the impenetrable blue, but the Jungfrau 
when it is touched by the late afternoon sun, and is 

8 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

bathed in rosy light, — something warm, palpitating, 
individual, even in a way inaccessible, — for those we 
love must have reserves which even the beloved one 
may hardly penetrate. 

I was walking the other morning in the shrubbery 
that skirts the lake, when I caught sight of a half -hid- 
den path which I had never noticed before. It was 
only another of the surprises with which this wonder- 
ful garden is full. I followed the path, brushing asido 
the detaining hands that the bushes put forth on ali 
sides, and stooping where the stouter branches were 
too low for the high head that I am always obliged to 
carry. I had all the joy of the discoverer. My little 
path seemed bent on mystery, for it wound in and out 
in all sorts of curves and tangents, but finally it led 
me to the most perfect morsel of a summer house, 
half overhanging the water, and half buried in the 
greenery. It was very, very old, and of curious, foreign 
workmanship, quite unlike anything in the Chateau it- 
self. The marble was stained with moss and lichen, 
and aU its outlines were so softened by time that it 
seemed almost a part of Nature. The carving had 
grown indistinct, but here and there I could trace the 
faint semblance of quaint flowers, and little loves were 
hovering in the midst of them, like bridal butterflies. 
What surprised me most was that there was also a 
marble seat extending along the front side of the sum- 
mer house, for any one who sat there must needs turn 
his back on the one possible outlook. The workman- 
ship was evidently Italian, and this arrangement may 

9 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



have been purely for symmetry; the Italians, you 
know, are great on symmetry. 

I sat down in my little summer house, facing the 
lake, and immensely pleased to have found such a 
splendid retreat. But the seat opposite still puzzled 
me. I got up and sat down on it, to see if that would 
give me any idea. You may call me fanciful, if you 
please to, but it solved the mystery. It was here the 
duke sat, and Margherita sat opposite to him. She 
looked at the beautiful view, and he looked at her, as 
any lover would. It was a pretty compliment. I 
liked the fancy, and often I came to the summer house 
and sat thus, picturing the dear Margaret opposite to 
me. 

Had the season been warmer, I think I should have 
lived in the garden, even slept there, out under the 
friendly stars, and in the company of the eternal 
mountains ; but the summer was not warm, and now 
the autumn winds are astir. There are rainy spells, 
and nights and days which are already cold. But I 
am not in a fault-finding mood, for, in reality, the 
Chateau is as dear to me as is the old garden. 

There are no entrances to the Chateau, save from 
the courtyard, but here you have your choice of half a 
dozen. A high wall in place of the greenery on the 
open side of the courtyard would have converted the 
Chateau into a respectable fortress. I rather fancy 
that in its early years such a wall existed, or, indeed, 
even a line of buildings, similar to what we now call 
the main chateau, thus closing in the courtyard com- 

10 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

pletely. There are signs of such a structure, and one 
can still trace the grooves in the sides of the archway 
where stout oaken doors once shut out unwelcome 
visitors. Except on the courtyard side, there are no 
openings whatever through the thick stone walls of 
the lower story of the Chateau. In fact, this lower 
story hardly counts. It is cellar, lumber room, wood- 
shed, vegetable storehouse, whatever you please, — 
even in the north wing a comfortable stable for Coco, 
the pony. The living rooms are all upstairs, on the 
first floor. It was safer in the old days to be a little 
out of reach, and to have the windows a bit above the 
ground. Otherwise the duke might have slept too 
well and never wakened more to sit again with Mar- 
gherita In the Italian summer house. 

It is rather a shock to remember that life in those 
days was so constantly on the defensive. I used to 
fancy, as a little fellow, that the people could never 
have slept well with precaution in the very air. But 
one gets used to it, I suppose, somewhat as one does when 
one goes where there are rattlesnakes. A few get bit- 
ten, but the majority escape, and one always expects 
to belong to the majority. And then, for that matter, 
we have only got one step beyond those old dukes of 
Savoy. They trusted their households, and distrusted 
their immediate neighbors. We trust our household 
and our immediate neighbors, and distrust our distant 
ones, that is, other nations. We are still on the de- 
fensive. Christian intercourse between nations, com- 
mon decency and honesty, have only been set up as a 

11 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



truce, not as a permanent arrangement. One feels 
that over here. The peace society may propose to 
have windows on the ground floor, but even England 
and America do not take the proposition seriously, and 
his majesty of Germany twirls his fierce-looking mus- 
taches, puts on another uniform, and says it 's all baby 
talk. Well, well, perhaps morality will sometime 
hold, even among nations. Four hundred years from 
now, — and four hundred years are a small matter to 
us geologists, — I venture to say that our descendants 
will look with as much surprise and horror upon the 
military savagery of the old days, that is, our present 
semi-civilized days, as we do upon the guarded bed- 
room of the late dukes of Savoy. I wonder what 
these same descendants will think of all our locks and 
keys. They will take us for a mighty dishonest crowd, 
or else fancy that the March winds were uncommonly 
strong. 

As a matter of daily comfort, I like this habit of 
living upstairs on the first floor. One has more light 
and more air, and a better outlook. It is drier, too, 
and sunnier, and in me, at least, it produces a certain 
elation to be some little distance above the turf. You 
must not think that I shall be vexed and try to beg off 
when the time comes for me to be put under it, — not 
a bit of it, — but meanwhile I want to be as kixu- 
riantly alive as possible, with the reddest sort of red 
blood in the blue Percyfield veins. 

There are so many apartments in the Chateau that 
we hardly use a quarter of them. Indeed, our life 

12 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

centres about the old south tower, the one you reach 
from the staircase at the left-hand corner of the court- 
yard. On the first floor of the tower there are two 
large apartments, the dining-room and the drawing- 
room. They are ranged side by side, and both have 
great windows looking toward the south. The draw- 
ing-room is the larger, for it has no hallway taken 
off. It stretches across the entire west face of the 
tower, and has a large double window looking out 
on the lake and on the sunset. It is a room full of 
interest. It is so large that almost a dozen groups 
could talk quietly without disturbing one another. 
The walls are covered with very old-fashioned green 
brocade, all except the space over the mantel, and that 
is in intricaffce white plaster work. The furniture is 
mostly red, but there are delightful old chairs whose 
original color it would be difficult to guess. Now that 
the room is in its winter dress, with dark red hangings 
at the windows, and warm rugs covering the greater 
part of the dark oak floor, it is a very cosy place 
indeed. Charlotte, herseK, could not find in all Phila- 
delphia a more beautiful room in which to hold her 
Sunday evening salon. Since the days at Bryn Mawr, 
this little sister of mine has taken to having a salon, 
and the droll part is that she manages it well. One 
may find some pretty big fish a-swimming in those 
softly lighted waters. 

Of course this old drawing-room is shabby, like all 
the rest of the Chateau, and a little out at the elbows. 
But it is the sort of shabbiness that means no loss of 

13 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



self-respect, and it only serves to endear the room all 
the more. 

There is no door between the drawing-room and the 
dining-room. Where the rooms are large enough to 
stand such isolation, I much like the arrangement, for 
it gives each room more individuality. Our American 
plan of throwing all the living rooms into one by 
sliding-doors and folding-doors and archways and the 
like, sounds very jolly, but in reality it makes you live 
pretty much in a heap, and when the door-bell rings 
there is always such a scurrying with the portieres 
and screens. 

The dining-room is a very severe apartment, and 
would never in the world be acceptable in that portion 
of my own city where the newly rich are wont to con- 
gregate. But I like its bareness and its spaciousness. 
One can fill one's lungs without expecting the closet- 
doors to fly open to relieve the vacuum. Everything 
is generous, and everything has about it the beauty of 
entire usableness. The bare deal floor bears witness 
to its own sweet cleanliness. The big sofa over in the 
corner, covered with turkey-red cotton, was meant to 
sit on, rest on, lounge on, lie on, and cannot by any 
amount of hard usage be made to appear other than 
sound and decorous. The large, inclosed sideboard 
in another corner shows through its glass doors a 
brave array of old china that would make Charlotte 
fairly green with envy. The large windows in the 
south end of the room, and the smaller one in the 
eastern corner, are all double, — for fuel is dear in 

14 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

Switzerland, — and just now the spaces between the 
casements are gay with red geraniums and Japanese 
chrysanthemums. Then there is a great stone fire- 
place, quite big enough to roast a whole ox, and in 
design sufficiently quaint and irregular to defy imita- 
tion. Over the fireplace there is a correspondingly 
big picture, so old that no one remembers who painted 
it. It represents two long wooden tables, on which 
are spread out in painful orderliness every variety of 
fish ever caught in the blue waters of Lac Leman, — 
and the list is a long one. They are evidently done 
by a man who was something of an Izaak Walton. 
Indeed, it is quite a remarkable picture, in a zoological 
way. The stolid little boy who stands in one comer 
of the picture lool^s as cold-blooded as the fishes. 

I sit at table directly opposite this picture, and I 
never look at it without thinking of Holland. It is 
just the sort of thing those old Dutch masters delighted 
in, — that is, when they allowed their imagination such 
wild flight. Usually they were too busy painting the 
homely women managers of orphan asylums, or the 
bibulous members of some long forgotten guild. If 
these masters had only used their tremendous power 
in painting sweet children and young motherhood, if 
they had only given us something that we could love ! 
Fo^j myself, I prefer Madonnas and juicy babies float- 
ing in clouds of rose and old gold, subjects that 
Murillo and Raffaelle delight in, things that are eter- 
nally beautiful. Of course you do not see these things 
in the street, or on 'change, but the worse for you 

15 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



that you do not. The mission of art is higher. It is 
to supplement God, and to add new beauties to the 
creation, not to photograph ugly things and then ask 
your admiration because the photographing is well 
done. 

There is a fine old clock in the corner of the dining- 
room that might have served for the original of Long- 
fellow's " Clock on the Stairs," for it seems to be forever 
saying, Toujours^ jamais ; jamais^ tonjours. I never 
see these old grandfather clocks without a touch of 
envy. We have a fine one out at Uplands, but none 
at all in the town house. My grandfather Marston's 
will some day be mine, but now it belongs to a dear 
old lady whom I love so much better than all the 
clocks in the world that I shall come into possession 
sorro^vf ully. So I designed a clock myself. It had 
a curious, enameled face with cabalistic characters 
wrought into the background, and a case made of the 
darkest mahogany. On the door in quaint carved let- 
ters were the words, Toiijours^ jamais ; jamais^ 
toujcmrs. But the clock was never built, and this is 
the way it happened. I was calling, soon after I fin- 
ished the design, on my professor of engineering. It 
was twilight, and beyond finding myself a chair, I could 
see little of the contents of the drawing-room. Pre- 
sently the professor came down, and stopped a moment 
in the hall to turn on the electric light. There in the 
corner opposite to me stood my identical clock, enam- 
eled dial, mahogany case, even the words on the door, 
except that they were painted instead of being carved. 

16 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-EIVAGE 

It made me feel queer. Of course I asked at once 
where the clock came from and found that the profes- 
sor had built the case himself and had had the works 
made at the clock factory up at Lancaster. I claimed 
the whole thing as mine, but the professor never ac- 
knowledged my claim. When I went home the next 
vacation, I tore up my design. I felt that I no longer 
owned it. Instead, I had an elaborate sun-dial built in 
the garden, and on it I put this motto: '' I count only 
those hours which are serene.'' It 's a capital motto. 
If I remember rightly, it is taken from an old dial 
near Venice. I got it out of Hazlitt's " Essays." 

Our clock at the Chateau has the steadiness of age, 
and we march very promptly to its orders. Nine o'clock 
finds us drinking morning coffee ; twelve, taking 
luncheon; four, drinking afternoon tea, and seven at 
dinner. It is the quiet, informal life of a generous old 
country house. We do not dress, even for dinner. 
We come to the table in sack coat or riding suit, as 
the hour happens to find us. We have but two for- 
malities, — we always knock at the dining-room door, 
and we always have candles at dinner. 

The next floor of the old south tower contains my 
own room. It is an enormous place, I should say at 
least twenty by thirty feet, and a ceiling high enough 
to be vague. The room is so big, that even a tall man 
like myself has somewhat the feeling of camping out 
in it. The particular featui*e in the room is the great 
south window. When the casements are thrown open, 
it is like being in an Italian loggia. And what a 

17 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



view ! If Charlotte could only see it. Near at hand 
is the old orchard. But I am up so high that I can 
only see the very treetops. In the spring time, when 
the apple blossoms are out in full force, it must be 
like heaven. The old garden stretches out below me 
like a map. Beyond the treetops, there are a few 
villas and some thickly planted vineyards; then a 
wooded slope, far enough ofE to have its green touched 
with blue, and back of that, against the southern sky, 
the blue-gray heights of Saleve. To the right is the 
lake, and across its waters the brave city of Geneva, 
the city of the Reformation. In the daytime, I can 
see its bristling Protestant spires pointing heavenward 
with even more of certitude than St. Peter's dome at 
Rome. At night, the rows of lights shine out across 
the waters like the very crown of the faithful. When 
I have put my own lamp out, — and this seldom hap- 
pens until after midnight, — these flashing lights of 
Geneva carry me any amount of good cheer. 

If I stick my head out of the window of a morning, 
as I generally do, I see still further to the right the 
long dark line of the Juras. Just now they have a 
sprinkling of snow on them, and dark, trailing clouds 
hide their summits. But best of all, to the extreme 
left, I can see the immense whiteness of Mt. Blanc, 
and that always gives me a great uplift. 

What I marvel at most is that such beauty as this 
could have produced Monsieur Jean Calvin. He must 
have stopped at home whenever the sun shone and 
gone abroad only in gray weather. Then, indeed, the 

18 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-EIVAGE 

cloud-covered mountains do look like the Hebrew 
prophets of denunciation. Furthermore, Monsieur 
Calvin was a lawyer, and that explains a great deal. 
The lawyers do have a way of getting things twisted. 
My friend the economist meant to be a lawyer, but 
he went to Halle, and like every one who goes to Halle 
and listens to Herr Conrad he came home an econo- 
mist. But he told me that for some months after- 
wards he never saw a lawyer without patting himself 
on the back and saying, " God be thanked," And 
then I always remember that agreeable old archbishop, 
who used occasionally to come and dine with my grand- 
father Percyfield. The archbishop was much sought 
after in the dinner way by gentlemen who had made 
fat fortunes in railways. On one of these occasions an 
attorney, of more than Philadelphia reputation, said by 
way of pleasantly, ''Your grace will naturally give 
such agreeable hosts free passes to heaven." " On the 
contrary," said the archbishop affably, " I shall not 
like to separate them from their counsel." This story 
always pleased my grandfather Percyfield mightily. I 
am afraid it would have shocked my grandfather Mar- 
ston. 

When the sun shines, my great south window is a 
blaze of glory, and speaks always of that love which 
is above all law, — the law which Monsieur Calvin too 
much emphasized, and the love which he too much 
ignored. 

Then I have an east window. It is a little affair, 
with full three feet of window-sill, I like to think 

19 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



that tliis room o£ mine was perhaps the bridal chamber 
of the duke and duchess, and that to this little window 
Margherita and her child came of a morning to taste 
the early sunshine. I picture them seated on the 
broad, low window-sill, the sun turning the boy's 
golden hair into an aureole of glory, and the tender 
mother-love in the face of Margherita making her 
look like one of MuriUo's Madonnas. And then I 
fall to thinking of my own Margaret, and wondering 
whether I shall ever find her. 

But this big apartment in the south tower of the 
old Chateau de Beau-Rivage is more than a mere 
play-room for the fancy. It is a place to work, and 
the tools are very much in evidence, — the generous 
writing-table, the big armchair, the scattered manu- 
scripts, the motley collection of pens and pencils, the 
still unspoiled stacks of paper. It is a studio, but 
without the smell of paint and turpentine, and it has 
been consecrated to a year of apprenticeship. The 
master craftsmen are on the book-shelf. 

Charlotte does not altogether like this fiction of 
mine in calling myself an artist ; she says it 's pre- 
sumptuous. But really it is not, for there are artists 
and artists, and the name tells simply what one 
would be if one could. But I told Charlotte, by way 
of consolation, that whatever came of the experiment, 
the year would certainly be a success, for I am over 
here for the indeterminate good. People who are will- 
ing to seek this are never defeated. I have noticed 
that when one is hunting a particular sort of sugar- 

20 



THE CHATEAU DE BEAU-RIVAGE 

plum, one often gets another, even better and sweeter, 
but never knows it, because the mind is so determined 
on the first. It was Saul, was it not, who went hunt- 
ing for his father's asses and found a kingdom? 
There is a great deal to be said for this doctrine of 
the indeterminate good. But my philosophy made 
less impression on Charlotte than it should have done, 
considering that she has read Hegel in the original. 
Perhaps it was not paradoxical enough for her to 
understand. A philosopher must not be too lucid if 
he wants to have followers. Next time I shall put my 
wisdom into a thicker cover. Then perhaps Charlotte 
will take to it. 

At any rate I came away. I thought that Char- 
lotte could well spare me, now that she has the de- 
voted Frederic, but it was a t;earful lady who saw the 
gangplank pulled in from a big steamer one lovely 
morning last June, and as for myseK, I confess that 
my heart was in my throat, and seemed to be conspir- 
ing with my Adam's-apple to choke me quite. But it 
is well that I said what I did about indefinite results, 
for after all, it was the unexpected that happened. 



21 



CHAPTER II 

THE UNITED KINGDOM 

Society at the Chateau is cosmopolitan. We re- 
present five countries. But it is nearly always so in 
Switzerland. When Charlotte and I were studying 
at Ziirich, we thought it the meeting place of the 
nations. The economist warned us that we should find 
it the headquarters of the educated malcontents of 
Europe, and in truth we saw so many queer-looking 
people that we judged some of them, at least, to be 
discontented ; we had less chance to know whether they 
were educated. 

But Geneva is apparently the rendezvous of the con- 
tented ones, or at least the Chateau de Beau-Rivage is. 

The Chatelaine represents Switzerland, and does it 
admirably. She is a gentlewoman of an ancient and 
honorable family. You may see her coat-of-arms, done 
in color, hanging between the great south windows of 
the dining-room. The Chatelaine is the last of her 
family, and when she dies, — which heaven grant may 
not be for many years to come, — the Chateau must 
pass into less accustomed and less reverent hands. I 
am a poor judge of age, but I should say that the 
Chatelaine is over forty. Her hair is silver-gray, and 
singularly abundant. She wears it combed back from 

22 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



her forehead in loose curves. Her face and eyes have 
all the appearance of youth, and her trim figure is 
almost girlish. She is rather short, and correspond- 
ingly slender. When she stands alongside of her ma- 
jestic neighbor of Mon Bijou, you realize that the 
Chatelaine is small, but taken alone, she allows no such 
impression. Her shoulders are thrown well back, the 
head held high, and her carriage is absolutely erect 
and dignified. She always dresses well, which is no 
small merit in a woman, gentle or otherwise. Usually 
she wears either dark green or purple, and both colors 
go excellently with her magnificent gray hair. Her 
cheeks have the high color of good health. She agrees 
with me that it is an immoral thing to be ill. She 
commonly wears no ornaments, a temperance which I 
much like, but on special occasions, such as the din- 
ner party she gave me on my birthday, she hangs an 
old family jewel about her neck, a dark-red stone set 
around with pearls. Against the purple velvet of 
her waist, the old jewel flashes back the concentrated 
pride of generations of high-spirited chatelaines. If 
they were all like our dear little mademoiselle, so 
gentle, so brave, so altogether kind, they may well 
have been proud of themselves, and one cannot but 
feel sad that so honorable and worthy a house has 
come to the end of its career. I can well imagine 
that in her youth the Chatelaine had many admirers, 
perhaps lost a lover by death, and refused to make the 
loss good. Back of her serene, self-contained face are 
many possibilities. There seems to hang about her 

23 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



person the same ricliness of experience that permeates 
the old Chateau. It was her great-grandfather several 
times removed, Monsieur Hyacinthe de Candolle, who 
acquired the Chateau from the duke of Savoy, when 
the duke finally moved to another of his estates. The 
Chatelaine has sur^dved her distinguished brother, and 
the beautiful sister who was all spirit and all fire. 
This little woman, with the erect carriage, begotten of 
generations of upright ancestors, is in reality a grand 
figure quite worthy to be the mistress of so charming 
an old chateau. 

Such is our good hostess. She is up early in the 
morning. She goes to bed late at night. She is for- 
ever occupied without being busy. 

It is a great gift, that of being occupied without 
being busy. I have a friend at home, Graham Har- 
lowe, who is forever busy without being occupied. 
When I go to see him I am always shown directly 
upstairs to his den, and there the poor youth sits, haK 
buried in papers and rubbish of all sorts, up to his 
ears in work, and never accomplishing anything. I 
believe he does produce a sonnet once in three years, 
the sort that makes us so much the poorer. I think 
he calls himself a student of comparative literature, 
but Charlotte once got sight of the stuff on his table, 
— obsolete, juiceless stuff it was, — and ever since then 
she has dubbed him the student of comparatively poor 
literature. Charlotte has not my grandfather Percy- 
field's objection to puns. Harlowe never rises when 
I enter. He always holds out his hand and says, 

24 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



" Ah, Percyfield, so glad to see you. Won't you sit 
down, and just excuse me for a minute till I finish 
looking up this reference." I do sit down, and I sel- 
dom wait less than ten minutes. But all the same, I 
owe Harlowe my thanks for this, that since I have 
known him — and we were at college together — I 
have never myseK been busy. Poor Mr. Miller, who 
is always tired, and the robust-looking Mrs. Codding- 
ton, who is always ill, have done me a similar good 
turn. It is at least something to make clear to people 
how not to do it. 

Besides myself, there are three other pensionnaires, 
loyal subjects of his majesty of Great Britain and 
Ireland, and as they hail each from one of the home 
countries, I caU them collectively the United King- 
dom. 

Ireland is a fragile old gentlewoman, an aristocrat 
to the backbone, and looking for all the world like a 
lost rose leaf from Versailles, or like one of those 
quaint Watteau figures on the old painted fan that 
used to belong to my grandmother Percyfield, and 
that Charlotte now carries so gayly to the German 
opera. Ireland has perfectly white hair, which she, 
or her maid, gathers into a great roll on the top of 
her head, after the pompadour manner. Her skin is 
fair and delicate without a trace of color, while her 
eyes are a faded blue. This always gives pathos to a 
face in spite of the high-born curve of the lids. Ire- 
land apparently disapproves of modern gowns. She 
wears old-fashioned flowered silks that were brand new 

25 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



at least half a century ago. They are trimmed with 
their original embroidered edgings, and have puffed 
sleeves. Some are a little low in the neck, and with 
these Ireland wears a triple string of pearls around 
her throat, and a corresponding aigrette in her hair. 
It goes without saying that in the house she wears 
low-cut, high-heeled slippers. You must not suppose 
for a moment that I would have our gentle Countess 
one whit different from what she is. On the contrary, 
I should quite resent it if she pored over the cock- 
ney fashion paper that Scotland reads so religiously 
every week, and shaped her gowns accordingly. Half 
Ireland's charm would be gone. As she is, I find her 
dainty, delicious, like a bit of old Dresden china, or, 
as I said before, like my grandmother Percyfield's 
painted fan, the one that was given to her by no less 
a person than Mr. Madison himself. 

And Ireland, like most Irish gentlewomen, speaks 
French to perfection. She has quite the Parisian ac- 
cent and intonation. It has something mellow and 
rare about it, like well-ripened fruit or old vintage 
wine. Indeed it seems to fit her better than does her 
native tongue. She is very kind, too, in helping others 
out, when the subjunctive mood or the position of the 
pronoun threatens disaster. 

England is Ireland's devoted friend, and is built on 
a much more rugged model. The two women sup- 
plement each other admirably. It is plain to see that 
England fairly worships Ireland's fragile daintiness ; 
and equally plain that Ireland looks upon England as 

26 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



a marvel of womanly strength. If I wrote that to 
Charlotte, she would say in her delightful, mocking 
way, " How true it is. Kin, that we are apt to like 
what we ourselves lack. Don't you just love witty 
people ? " Charlotte can say the most outrageous 
things in the very sweetest manner. Once when she 
was tired and wanted me to repeat some poetry to her, 
I tried to beg off by reminding her that I only knew 
one old piece, the Legend Beautiful, and added gal- 
lantly that I did not want to bore her, to which she 
murmured, " But you can't help it, you know, Kin, so 
go right on." I wonder how Frederic ever managed 
to propose. He has courage. 

As I was saying, England is rugged. She has a 
high color, jet black hair, and a deep voice that sounds 
almost like a man's. When she ^eaks, we aU stop 
and listen. She is one of those masterful women to 
whom one assumes, quite unconsciously, a distinct 
manner. I always say, " Yes, Madame," " No, Ma- 
dame," " Do you think so, Madame ? " much, I sup- 
pose, as I should have talked to Delphi, had the oracle 
deigned to notice me. Now with Ireland, it is quite 
different. I never say " Madame " to her. I always 
speak with a certain gentle deference, as one would to 
a sweet child, and quite by instinct, I lower my voice 
by a full half tone. I find myself, too, using old- 
fashioned phrases. I should never think of quoting 
her any of Charlotte's college slang, any more than I 
should think of wearing a dress suit to church. I even 
purr softly after her own manner, and say the most 

27 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



obvious platitudes as if they were brand new dis- 
coveries and worth a struggle with the idiomatic 
vagaries of the French tongue. 

With England I talk politics. But though I am so 
very respectful before this aggressive English matron, 
I do not hesitate to deny every single item in her 
political creed. She is a typical islander, provincial 
as they come, and even your educated Enghshman can 
be very provincial. Furthermore, she is an imperialist 
of the imperialists. She takes great comfort out of 
her creed. After the heavenly hosts, she adores the late 
queen and the royal family, even to the third and fourth 
generation. England softens her voice when she men- 
tions any one of them, until it sounds quite reverential, 
and she is pretty sure to add some endearing adjective. 
It is " Our dear queen," " Our beautiful princess," 
" Our noble prince." 

I doubt not that kings and queens may have served 
some wise purpose, for the ways of Providence are 
inscrutable, but I do think they have had their day. 
And of all stupid things, it must be the stupidest to 
be one of them. They have pretty much given up the 
inconvenience of crowns and ermine, except when they 
have their pictures taken, but the interminable red 
tape, from morning till night, from night till morning, 
must be simply dreadful. When I say these things to 
England, she does not even reply. She looks at me 
with quiet pity. 

England's next object of worship is the Anglo-Saxon 
race. I think myself that it is a pretty fine race that 

28 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



can produce Mr. ^Vashington, and Mr. Lincoln, and 
my grandfather Percyfield. But where we cross swords, 
England and I, is as regards their mission, the direc- 
tion in which this superiority ought to spend itself. 
I am aU for self -conquest, — as indeed, how could a 
disciple of Mr. Emerson be otherwise ? — for perfect- 
ing ourselves, our family life, our institutions, for 
dazzling and conquering the rest of the world by the 
irresistible force of our example. I cannot believe, 
myself, in the white man's burden. It seems to me 
like pulling the mote out of your brother's eye. I 
like to believe in the white man's splendid privilege 
of making the most he can out of himself, and of 
helping his yellow or black brother, without patroniz- 
ing him, or robbing him, or shooting him, or even 
giving him cheap Testaments as a preface to several 
hundred per cent, profit on cheap goods. It is fine 
practice to cross swords with England and test my 
own strength and coherence. Sometimes at home I 
make stump speeches to Charlotte. I do not know 
that she always listens, but she sits patiently before 
the fire, while I stride up and down the long drawing- 
room at Uplands. '• This slumming business is all 
wrong," I say to her, " whether it be local or national. 
It is an impertinence to interfere with other people's 
affairs. What you want to do is to change their ideas 
and then their affairs will mend themselves quick 
enough. You put bathtubs into your model tene- 
ment houses, and your Italians and Poles find them 
excellent storage boxes for potatoes and cabbages, 

29 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



What you want to give them is the idea of cleanli- 
ness and then a tin basin will suffice," — " you forget 
the water and the soap" puts in Charlotte mockingly, 
but I go right on, — " ideas are the open sesame, the 
wonder workers. And this you can impart by no 
artificial contact, no occasional slumming at home, no 
sharp bargaining and psalm-singing abroad. You must 
live your own sweet, natural life, just as ideal as you 
can make it, and then let the good contagion spread. 
Clear up your own spiritual vision and look to it that 
you see things straight and true yourself. Idealize 
the relations of daily life, with the cook, the waitress, 
the gardener, the groceryman, the boy who brings the 
newspaper or the telegram, with the neighbor. Be 
just as polite to your relatives as you are to other 
people. Don't read your letters at the breakfast table " 
— " Thanks," murmurs Charlotte. — " It will take the 
whole twenty-four hours to do this and the whole of 
life to bring the process to any degree of perfection. 
It is the same with nations. Let America perfect her 
own national life, let her be at once what she is des- 
tined to be ultimately, the very greatest nation in 
history. Let her be unselfish and just and generous 
in her dealings with other nations, and this whether 
they be white or yellow or black, whether they be 
strong or weak. That would be the modern, moral 
way of imitating the conquests of Alexander." 

In spite of her mockery, Charlotte agTces with these 
ideas of mine, and really has a very clear head for 
politics. Only when I get on too high a horse, she 

30 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



has a droll way of calling me clown that I rather 
fancy is entirely wholesome. Miss Polyhymnia, who 
has an apt name for everybody, calls Charlotte the 
" Balance Wheel." She used to call my gTandfather 
Percyfield '' Grosspapa," which was something of a 
liberty with so dignified an old gentleman, but I think 
he rather liked it. Miss Polyhymnia has sound ideas, 
too, about the amenities of daily hfe, the "minor 
morals " as she calls them. 

When I talk back to England in this anti-imperi- 
alistic way, she cannot deny what I say. She has 
read her prayer-book too carefully not to know some- 
thing of the Christian religion, but she sighs the way 
people will when they have to do presumably with 
Utopians. She does not seem to have much faith in 
the kingdom that is to come, though she prays for it, 
I dare say, once or twice a day. She reminds me of 
a young girl who lives near Uplands. Charlotte had 
been thrown from her horse, and was pretty badly 
injured. My aunt Percyfield feared that she would 
die and had prayers for her recovery offered at St. 
David's. When Charlotte was weU enough to have 
visitors, this young girl came to see her at once, and 
fairly sobbed over her. "My dear Charlotte," she 
cried, " I never expected to see you alive, for they 
prayed for your recovery in church, and they never 
do that unless there is no hope." England takes the 
ideal part of her creed in much the same way, \\^thout 
ever expecting it to come true, and such prayers, as 
every one who has tried them knows, avail absolutely 

31 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



nothing. My own prayers are short, but they go 
straight to the great Soul of the Universe, for I my- 
self believe in them. 

I never really expect to convert England to my 
ideas, but we renew the contest from time to time, and 
I must say for her that she is a fair listener. But 
what can you expect of people who believe in such 
confounded nonsense as kings and queens. 

Ideas go in bunches. Granting the right of a par- 
ticular family to rule over a whole people, and it is a 
short step to Madame's doctrine that this particular 
people has the right to rule over the whole world, — if 
it can. I suppose one could travel the road backward. 
If America should ever be seriously bitten with the 
idea of empire, it would be a short step, I fear me, to 
having one man rule America. And in that event we 
ought to be very docile, for what we give to others we 
ought to be willing to accept for ourselves. Otherwise 
we should not be living up to the Golden Rule. And 
the emperor, hang him, might be as firmly convinced 
of his own superiority to the rest of us common men as 
we were of our collective superiority to other nations. 

But England, like all misguided people, is obstinate. 
She persists in maintaining that the Anglo - Saxon 
mission is nothing short of world conquest. Though 
the poor of Edinburgh and Glasgow are the most de- 
praved creatures in the world, unless, indeed, our own 
New York and Chicago poor equal them ; and though 
it is not pleasant for a decent man or woman to go 
abroad in London city after ten o'clock of nights, 

32 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



England stiU holds that it is the Anglo-Saxon mission 
to rule India and if possible the rest of Asia and 
Africa, and as many of the isles of the sea as she can 
gather into her drag-net. I quote Shakespeare to her, 
— " You yourseK are much condemned to have an itch- 
ing palm," — it avails not. And when I point out to 
her the immense human cost of this domineering im- 
periahsm, how the fresh, wholesome young English- 
men, who have sailed so bravely out of Plymouth or 
Southampton Bay, have come back from India or the 
Cape, or the uttermost parts of the world, spoiled, 
arrogant, with all the vices that come to the conquer- 
ors of inferior peoples, how their children lack the 
rosy cheeks and moral health of the home nurseries, 
how the greatest curse of slavery has always been on 
the slaveholders, then England retorts by throwing 
me a line of Kipling's, or by saying in her most ma- 
jestic bass, " Kemember, Mr. Percyfield, that my father 
was a colonel in the Indian service." 

This stops the conversation at once, for however 
hot one may be in a cause, one cannot talk to a lady 
against her father, or even against the class to which 
he may have had the misfortune to belong. As the 
French say, it is not polite to mention a rope in the 
house of a man that 's been himg. 

But one goes on thinking all the same, and praying 
that the party of Little England may in the end pre- 
vail, and that in America, by God's grace, there may 
never be anj^ party but that of Little America, if such 
a term can be applied to anything so already colossal. 

33 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



But though England's color deepens, and I forget to 
eat my dinner, we remain good friends, and we talk 
about many other things besides politics. Sometimes 
the conversation is even so mUd as to be open to Scot- 
land. Scotland is a young thing, a matter of eighteen 
or nineteen, I should say. How she ever came to be 
connected with Ireland and England, beyond the bond 
established by James First and Sixth — " Nothing wa- 
vering " — I am at a loss even to conjecture. It was 
several days before I saw Scotland distinctly enough to 
have recognized her on the road. She is an illusive 
sort of person. But now I never look at her without 
thinking of Stevenson's aunt. When Kobert Louis 
asked her if she had been pretty as a girl, she an- 
swered, you remember, " Well, I was na exactly what 
ye would ha' called bonny, but I was pale, penetrating, 
and interesting." That is Scotland precisely, and in 
addition she is a most exasperating person. The bother 
is in her eyes. She has sleepy eyes that are half 
closed most of the time. Now it is a great mistake 
to think that people with sleepy eyes are necessarily 
stupid. On the contrary, they often see more than 
people with wide-open eyes. The most unobservant 
man I ever knew had great, staring, blue eyes. And 
then again, by shutting out a lot of nonsense, these 
sleepy-eyed folk sometimes get in a deal of thinking. I 
have reasoned all this out, and understand it perfectly, 
but somehow I am forever failing to apply it with 
Scotland. I am always making allowances for her, 
and expecting her to be more stupid than she is, and 

34 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



then when it turns out otherwise, it is very aggravat- 
ing. Scotland has a nasty habit of stopping indoors, 
even when the sun shines, and both the Alps and the 
Juras are making loud bids for one's admiration. I 
do not approve of Scotland at all. She writes long lovf 
letters to that bare-legged Scottish laird of hers, and 
pores over cockney fashion papers, and does other 
things equally stupid. She had much better be out 
doors getting a little color into her pale cheeks. I 
took her to task about it this evening. She is nine or 
ten years younger than I am, and the duties of the 
elder brother sometimes weigh rather heavily upon me. 
At times, Scotland is so irrelevant. The other day 
I was talking very earnestly at the luncheon table, 
and talking pretty weU, I think, for the Chatelaine 
and Ireland and England all listened attentively. 
I was, perhaps, a little carried away by my own elo- 
quence, as Charlotte puts it, and talked a few mo- 
ments too long. When I paused for breath, Scotland 
said, — very abruptly I thought, — '' There was an 
American lady at the Chateau, last year, who had a 
little donkey with her. If one were to ride it into 
Geneva, what autunm fruit would one represent?" 
Conundrums are so trivial anyway, and this was so out 
of place on top of our serious talk, that none of us 
made any attempt to guess it. It was only for polite- 
ness' sake that I begged Scotland to teU us the answer, 
for it is very dismal when one's conim drums go both 
imguessed and unanswered. '• A pear," said Scotland, 
innocently. I looked at her sharply, but you can 

35 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



never tell with these sleepy-eyed people whether they 
are quizzing you or not. 

England has no great sense of humor, and, after- 
wards, in repeating the story, I heard her say that 
the answer was an apple. 

Poor Scotland is really too young to have come out 
from home. She ought to be at one of those schools 
for the daughters of gentlemen, that abound between 
London and Harrow-on-the-Hill. It must be dull for 
her here. She does not speak more than about two 
words of French. We sometimes use EngUsh at the 
table, so that she can understand, but commonly it is 
French, for England and I have a laudable desire to 
improve our accent, and, indeed, we can hardly afford 
to leave the Chatelaine out of the talk. Of course, 
the Chatelaine speaks English, but she is at her best 
in French. She has that rare gift of comradeship, 
and we all of us turn to her like flowers to the sun. 
She is a sturdy little person. For her, as for all 
Genevois, the central fact of history is the Reforma- 
tion, and she is not a little proud that her own brave 
city of Geneva should have been one of its cradles. 
But she is not illiberal. She took me the other Sun- 
day afternoon to a meeting of the theosophical society, 
where we heard Monsieur le professeur Flournoy and 
Monsieur le docteur Pascal disagree about the merits 
of a certain Madame Blavatsky. 

Ireland and England have morning coffee in their 
own salon. The Chatelaine drinks it at some unearthly 
hour, and Scotland, for unaccountable reasons, prefers 

36 



THE UNITED KTN'GDOM 



to come to the -so'^^c a 70.0/0 nc)\ 50 she and I must 
needs breakfa ::^ 

of the cock. tu:. . a 

cock that duts n^ . ... ......1 ... in 

very wide awake by nine, and evt 5 

her eyes a little v.'^ - ^'an at oth- is 

also a trifle less wi > l :r morning l -r-. >> :. :: I 
write this to Charlotte, I add that good conunnnica- 
tions correct evil manners, but Charlotte retorts that 
it is a poor reformation that won't last a whole day. 
As breakfast in Switzerland consists of coffee and rolls 
and butter and honey, there is little to intermpt con- 
versation, and Scotland and I talk fast and farionsly. 
It is often aboat books. Scotland has the most mi- 
reliable taste in literary matters of any one I ever 
knew. She seems to have read some very good books 
in her day and recommends them to me quite seri- 
ously, — books that everybody has read, and that I 
have virtually grown np on. I wonder what she thinks 
we do in America of an evening and a Sunday. Then, 
with the same enthusiasm, she praises the veriest trash 
that ever you saw, and even fetches me the books 
themselves so that I may be sure to read them. 
Some of them I flatly refuse, but others I have to 
swallow. I always return them with a growl. Scot- 
land looks surprised, and says, very innocently, "And 
didn't yon like it, Mr. Percyfidd?" I haK suspect 
that she is quizzing me, — these Scots are such canny 
people. But I never avoid Scotland. I take my 
grandfather Percyfield's view of the case, and count 

37 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



her a part of my education. But I fear me that if 
Charlotte, my dear Balance Wheel, heard me say that, 
she would inform me very promptly that I was a bit 
of a prig. 

Of late I have got into the habit of dropping into 
the salon of the United Kingdom, and drinking after- 
noon tea with them. On Sundays and Thursdays, you 
can buy very nice little buns up at the village, and I 
usually fetch a package of them as my contribution 
to the feast. I am really very fond of the dainty, 
porcelain-like Ireland, and the rugged, unregenerate 
England. Even Scotland is like the proverbial singed 
cat that my aunt Percyfield is always talking about, 
and is better than she looks. 

The salon of the United Eangdom is in the east 
wing of the Chateau, on the south side of the court- 
yard, and is really a very grand apartment. In the 
matter of furniture it is quite the best thing that we 
have. Among the three of them, the United King- 
dom have some splendid old rugs and draperies, and 
Bellagio blankets, in point of beauty quite beyond 
anything I have ever seen in America. When I praise 
the apartment, as I do involuntarily nearly every 
afternoon that I go into it, England says stoutly that 
it is the cream of the Chateau. But I tell her that this 
cannot be, for the cream always rises to the top, and 
that my own room, up in the south tower, is undeni- 
ably the cream. Under my banter, I am really much 
in earnest. I am always happiest when I am at the 
top of a building. Like Monsieur Souvestre, I would 

38 



THE UXITED lONGDOM 



be a philosopher under the eaves. At Uplands my 
study is a great garret, whose windows give me 
a splendid view of our beautiful Chester valley, 
and whose bare rafters make the most delightful 
shadows. Charlotte, the practical one, says that this 
taste of mine is due to the fact that I am a bit 
" skyey " anyway. But I notice that if it be so, she 
likes heaven pretty well herseK, for she often comes 
up to my garret and sits in front of my rough stone 
fireplace. It was here that she told me about Fred- 
eric. There is another charm to this study of mine ; 
it holds always select company. I admit no one that 
I do not like. In this way I preserve a certain atmos- 
phere. Being at the top of the house, it is easy to 
exclude the less welcome guest. I never ask my aunt 
Percyfield up, but for that matter I rather suspect she 
prefers her own more conventional sitting-room on the 
first floor. It is worth remembering, before you grow 
too contrite about avoiding people who bore you, that 
it is just possible you may bore them. 

When I mention this exclusiveness to the United 
Kingdom, they say that it is the same with their salon, 
and that I must understand why I am invited. I rise 
and bow, pressing my hand gallantly to my heart, but 
thinking the while that it would have been more subtle 
not to have added the last part of the remark. Many 
a compliment is spoiled by being made too obvious. 
The French have a clever way of suggesting things. 
The trouble is they don't always mean them. If we 
could keep our Anglo-Saxon honesty and mix with it 

39 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



something of the Gallic subtlety, what a people we 
should be ! If one must choose, I should always take 
the honesty, let it be never so blunt. But I am in- 
clined to think that we might have both. It seems 
to me that Charlotte has ; she is both subtle and 
downright. And she is so funny with it all. I re- 
member once when my aunt Percyfield was about to 
scold Charlotte for some prank or other, she began 
her lecture by saying, " Now I don't want to be dis- 
agreeable," when Charlotte, quoting, I think, from 
some book she had just been reading, remarked very 
sweetly, " Then why, dear aunt, do violence to your 
inclination ? " My aunt Percyfield shut her teeth 
very tightly together, and deigned no reply. She is 
rather a severe old gentlewoman. 

Ireland always makes the tea, and England passes 
the village buns, or, these lacking, slices of bread and 
butter, so very thin that you can hardly catch hold of 
them, and when at last you do get hold of them, you 
are pretty sure to stick your fingers straight through 
the bread and get them all covered with butter. I 
wonder whoever originated the idea that it is the thing 
to cut bread in this idiotic fashion. 

Scotland, although the youngest of the party, passes 
nothing, — hardly the time of day, — but establishes 
herself on a sofa in a distant corner of the room, and 
scarcely says a word, except to beg that her tea shall be 
made very strong. But for myself, I take my tea hot 
and very weak, for I hold with the orientals that a deli- 
cate flavor is better than a rank one, violets than onions. 

40 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



Ireland's tea equipage is stunning, — a quaint sil- 
ver samovar that I think she told me she picked up 
at Prague. But it is not quite so quaint as one that 
my friend Mrs. Lewis has, and it lacks the same inter- 
esting habit of exploding. Mrs. Lewis lives out at 
Chestnut Hill, which, you must know, stands second 
only to my own beautiful Chester valley in being the 
prettiest suburb of Philadelphia. Mrs. Lewis's samo- 
var does quite wonderful things. It stands in the 
drawing-room on a little table in front of the sofa. 
One afternoon, when Mrs. Lewis was making tea 
there, and, I suppose, had the spirit flame a bit too 
high, the samovar went off like a geyser, and sent a 
fountain of boiling tea up to the very ceiling. And 
there, in plain view, it left an unsightly spot. This 
was no slight disaster, for Mrs. Lewis's house is old, 
and the walls are done in a sort of kalsomining wash, 
that you cannot at all patch up in case of accident, 
but must decorate entirely afresh. Furthermore, Mrs. 
Lewis, as every one knows, has some beautiful pic- 
tures in her drawing-room, and it would have been a 
serious \indertaking to dismantle the room and hand 
it over to the decorators. It was a question what to 
do. While the matter was still under discussion, Mrs. 
Lewis was again making tea, and in the same spot. 
But this time the samovar had only hot water in it ; 
the tea had not yet been added. Again the flame was 
too high, I suppose, for again the samovar became a 
geyser. A column of boiling water rose hissing to the 
ceiling, Mrs. Lewis was beginnmg to think that her 

41 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



quaint samovar was possessed of an evil spirit, and 
had better be retired from active service ; but no such 
fate befell it, for when the ceiling dried the unsightly 
spot had entirely disappeared. A samovar that can 
spoil your ceiling for you, and then repair it, is not a 
thing to be put lightly on the shelf. I was not present 
when all this happened, but Mrs. Lewis is a very 
truthful woman, and she told me the story herself. It 
was one day when I was taking luncheon with her. 
There were four of us, — Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, my 
good friend Mrs. Thorne, and myself. Something else 
rather interesting happened that day. In the dining- 
room there is a splendid big Tintoretto, one of the very 
few that are owned in America, a Claude Lorraine 
landscape, and several other notable canvases that 
would now be hanging in the Louvre if French gold 
could buy them. Opposite to me and over the door 
leading into the pantry there was a landscape by 
Hunt, and of such splendid coloring that at once I 
thought of Titian. After luncheon, when we were 
making the round of the pictures, Mrs. Lewis asked 
if this one did not remind us of an old master, and 
begged us to tell her which one. Mrs. Thorne would 
hazard no guess, and mine seemed quite too wild to 
mention. But when Mrs. Lewis said that the picture 
always reminded her of Titian, I hastened to confess 
the same thought, and added, " I think I know the 
very picture you have in mind. It is the Earthly and 
the Heavenly Love, and hangs in the Villa Borghese 
at Rome. It is the wonderful sky that is the same in 

42 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



both pictures." It happened that I was right, and 
Mrs. Lewis went on to tell us something of the his- 
tory of the picture. When she first owned it, the 
horizon was crooked — there was a stretch of ocean 
in the picture — and on the cliff in the foreground 
a couple of little boys m decidedly store clothes were 
playing, of all games in the world, croquet. One 
day when Hunt was at the house, Mrs. Lewis asked 
him to straighten the horizon for her. He was so 
good-natured about it that she ventured to ask as an 
additional favor that the little boys and their store 
clothes and their mallets and baUs and wickets might 
be sent where they belonged, and the onlooker be 
allowed to enjoy the wonderful sky in peace. It was 
done at once, and now the picture is wholly beautiful. 
They say there is a woman back of every good picture 
that ever was painted. 

The United Kingdom rather like these anecdotes 
of mine about America. I try very hard to give 
them true pictures, but it is difficult to present any- 
thing like a- unit impression. I never realized before 
what a composite thing America is. I have been 
myself in every state and territory save Florida and 
Alaska, and if I should teU all my adventures at once, 
it would be impossible for a European to believe that 
they had all happened under one flag. What is quite 
possible and couunonplace in the South could never 
happen in Boston, and the doings at Cambridge, our 
modern Athens, God bless her I would be quite incred- 
ible in New Mexico. So I am always careful to tell 

43 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



in just what part of America my adventures befell. 
But I might as. well spare myself the trouble, as far 
as the United Kingdom are concerned, for their igno- 
rance of American geography is so profound as to be 
delicious. They asked me the other day where New 
England was. Perhaps they took it for a suburb of 
Chicago. I am quite resolved at Christmas time to 
give them a wall map of the United States, if I don't 
yield to the temptation and give it sooner. 

The ignorance of the United Kingdom about Amer- 
ican literature is even more astonishing. They have 
never read Emerson, imagine it, our gentle Emerson, 
who is read on both sides of the Atlantic with such 
fervor. And they don't know what happened at Con- 
cord. The first time I went to Concord I was minded 
to go barefooted, it seemed to me such holy ground. 
And when I came home I had to tell everybody about 
my visit, even a small boy of my acquaintance, for I 
was so full of it. With the small boy, I began by 
asking if he knew what Concord was noted for. '' Oh, 
yes," said he. " Tell me," I answered, wondering 
whether he would say Emerson or Hawthorne, Thoreau 
or the Alcotts. " For the Concord grape," said he 
triumphantly, and I suppose he wondered why I looked 
so crestfallen, and why Charlotte laughed so outra- 
geously. 

One would hardly think that Emerson had written 
in the same language. Even in the very heart of 
Germany, at Weimar, — a place, by the way, that 
strongly reminds me of Concord, such sweet reverence 

44 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



have they for the brave spirits that have been, — the 
hard-working woman who kept our pension knew 
better about our literature than does the United King- 
dom collectively. She had read Howells and Henry 
James and other American writers, but she quite won 
my heart by saying : " Of all the high spirits in our 
books, mein Herr, it is a countryman of yours that I 
love the best. His name was Emerson." 

Equally surprising is the profound ignorance of the 
United Kingdom about the simplest facts of natural 
science. I wonder, sometimes, that they have lived so 
long to tell the tale. The other afternoon, for ex- 
ample, England told me, as a triumph of good man- 
agement, that the preceding night she had shut the 
damper to the stove so as to throw all the heat into 
the room. This is the favorite French method of 
committing suicide. Only the fact that the rooms of 
the Chateau are so large, and the damper not at all a 
close fit, saved the imperialist cause a sturdy cham- 
pion. 

But in spite of their ignorance of Emerson, and 
their imperialism, there is an undoubted charm about 
these old gentlewomen, and an undeniable culture. 
And then it dawns upon me at times that their igno- 
rance appears so profound, because it is an ignorance 
of the things that I happen to know. I discover every 
day what a vast number of things they know that I 
don't. They quite make me wish that I had read 
some of the books so laboriously written by my good 
friend, the history man. Partly because of the genu- 

45 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



ine friendship that a longer acquaintance with the 
United Kingdom brings about, and partly for the sake 
of finding out how the very intelligent and positive 
daughter of an Indian colonel looks at life, I am get- 
ting into the habit of prolonging these tea drinkings 
until dusk on the afternoons that I have no music les- 
son. The Chatelaine herself sometimes joins us, and 
in the lengthening shadows we have talks that become 
to me increasingly interesting. The Chatelaine is 
much better informed about American affairs than 
are the United Kingdom, and this because she has 
so many American friends, and also because the people 
not occupied in conquering the rest of the world are 
more in touch with current movements. To a certain 
class of ideas, to me very leavening ideas, England 
and Ireland are absolutely inaccessible. They are as 
impenetrable to democracy as is my aristocratic old 
aunt Percyfield. The historic sense does not seem to 
have brought them any prophetic power. But does 
not my dear Matthew Arnold say that the English 
aristocracy is noted for its high spirit and its inapti- 
tude for ideas ? As I was saying, however, it is amaz- 
ing how thoroughly you can disapprove of people's 
politics, and still have a friendly regard for the people 
themselves. It is the same way at home. I am my- 
self very hot for free trade, but some of my best 
friends are misguided protectionists. 

Sometimes Monsieur and Madame du Chene join us 
of an afternoon, and then the talk is almost as lively 
as it is at Charlotte's Sunday evening salons. And I 

46 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



have learned one very important thing from these 
talks. It is fear. It would be a poor lesson to learn 
of man or woman if it were personal fear. That is a 
lesson, please God, that I wiU never learn of any one. 
But I mean national fear. We do not in America 
enough appreciate our superb security. The sea is 
the best garden hedge a nation can have. To stretch 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to have but one 
neighbor on the north and one on the south, both 
friendly and both weaker than ourselves, this alone is 
a tremendous boon. It will be a shame upon us if 
we do not outstrip all the nations in goodness and in 
prosperity, for we of all the nations do not know fear. 
The Briton owes much of his high spirit to the fact 
that the sea has been his frontier. He is invinci- 
ble as long as he sticks to his island. As long as 
his colonies are self-governed, practically independent 
members of a great Anglo-Saxon confederation, he 
may repeat his pretty story about the sun's never set- 
ting on the lands of Great Britain, and no harm come 
of it. For my part, I am very glad that the sun does 
set once a day on America and rise again : it gives us 
a chance to rest and do a better day's work on the 
morrow. I shall send this toast to Charlotte for the 
family dinner at Uplands, on Thanksgiving : '' May 
the stars and stripes be kissed each day by the setting 
as well as by the rising sun. May the greed of im- 
perialism never take hold of the Great Republic." 
Frederic will read it in his fine barytone voice, and 
Charlotte will cry, " Hear ! Hear ! " 

47 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



My brother of Great Britain, my noble Anglo-Saxon, 
lacks no bravery as long as he is himself. He becomes 
a coward only when he becomes a conqueror. It is his 
dependencies that make him shake in his boots. It is 
India and Africa that keep him awake of nights. 

Here on the Continent there is universal fear. It 
was worth crossing the ocean to make the discovery. 
Without this key, an American cannot understand the 
triple and quadruple alliances, the jealously watched 
balance of power, the cowardly diplomacy, the pa- 
ralysis of the Powers before the Sick Man of Europe, 
the constant war cloud in the East. It is like a ner- 
vous game of chess. One listens always for the cry 
of " check ! " and dreads the final checkmate. Shall 
America join this family party of fear ? I pray God 
not. The hope of the world is not here. It is in 
America, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, it 
is in any country where men are devoting themselves 
to self -conquest, to the perfecting of the daily life, and 
have thrown over once for all the dog-in-the-manger 
attitude towards events. There is but one cure for 
this malady of fear, this malady as characteristic of 
Europe as dyspepsia is of America. It is interna- 
tionalism. It is democracy. We Americans come 
over to Europe very gayly of a summer. We flit 
about from place to place, much struck indeed with 
the superficial aspect of things, playing as ignorantly 
with political and social conditions as children with 
loaded firearms, and even wishing in our ignorance to 
import some of these outworn conditions into America. 

43 



THE UNITED KINGDOM 



It is a picturesque holiday for us. But it behooves us 
to take care. There are grave human issues at stake. 
It is not a time for sentimentality. Not even the 
bright little person on the throne of the Netherlands, 
or the beautiful woman at Rome, or the family group 
at Windsor, or the picturesque uniforms of the Hohen- 
zollern, or the pathetic autocrat at St. Petersburg must 
blind us to the fact that these all belong to a past order 
of things, that dynastic aspiration is only another name 
for colossal, inhuman selfishness. It was this that 
turned the first Napoleon, the man who might have 
been the deliverer of Europe, into a monster so intol- 
erable that he had to be quarantined at St. Helena. 

Every American girl who catches at the trinket of 
a European title, every American gentleman who suf- 
fers the slightest breach in the sound ramparts of his 
own simple democracy, adds another link in the chain 
of fear, and is traitor to the country of Washington 
and Lincoln, Emerson and Whitman ; worse still, they 
are traitors to humanity itself. And 1 blame the men 
far more than the girls. Even in this age of the new 
woman, the men still have the greater experience, and 
that ought to make them the stronger. To the girls, 
be it remembered, the temptation comes sugar-coated 
with the semblance of love. And then, as Charlotte 
says, we men of the Great Republic should make our- 
selves so attractive that our European rivals would 
have no chance whatever. 

There is no internationalism possible between mon- 
archies. If the lion and the lamb lie down together, 

49 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



they must be concentric. Nor is there between im- 
perialistic republics, nor with an army-ridden country 
like France, where la gloire^ like the measles, may 
break out any fine day when the sun happens to shine 
upon a man on horseback. Internationalism is only 
possible between self-governed, self-respecting people, 
that is, between genuine democracies. And my daily 
prayer for America is that she may be such a demo- 
cracy, and may escape the black plague of European 
fear. We have now such command of the forces of 
Nature, such power to make the earth fair, that it is 
fear only, and the selfishness born of fear, that ward 
off the millennium. 

When I was a little boy, and heard the clergyman 
at old St. David's preach about the terrors of the day 
of judgment, and how it would come as a thief in the 
night, when no man Tcnoweth^ I used to keep the mat- 
ter in mind as long as my boyish memory would hold 
out, for I had the droll conceit that the day of judg- 
ment could not fall as long as any one person — even 
a little boy in knickerbockers — was thinking about it. 
I have long since given up this grave fight, for I know 
now that the day of judgment comes any day and 
every day. 



50 



CHAPTER in 

MOONLIGHT 

I HAVE been working very hard to-day. The mood 
was on. I got out of bed much earlier than my wont. 
I wrote almost steadily until four o'clock, stopping 
only for my meals. England noticed my abstraction 
and asked kindly if I had had bad news from home. 
Then I remembered with a blush that I had not even 
read my letters, a most unusual proceeding for me, and 
one of the letters from Charlotte, too ! England 
laughed when she saw my embarrassment. " Ah," she 
said, '' you literary men are an absent-minded lot. You 
are as bad as lovers." 

" And if, Madame," said I, " a man should be 
both ? " 

" You would be insupportable," she answered 
promptly, and with that I took myself off. 

When four o'clock came, the fire had somewhat 
spent itself and I knew that I ought to be getting the 
fresh air. I was so full of my work, however, that I 
wanted no company, not that of Coco, nor even of my 
wheel. I went off on foot, choosing a favorite route 
of mine through the little village of La Capite, and on 
past the Tower of the Egyptian to those quiet lanes 
on the south slope where one has such splendid views 

51 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of the Alps. I got there a trifle after sunset and 
what I saw quite drove my work out of my head, and 
brought me back at last to the present moment. 

There are other spots in Switzerland where one has 
grander and more extensive views, but none, I think, 
more beautiful than this. Far below me, there was a 
broad, flat valley, unrolled apparently for no other 
reason than for my particular delight. The gloaming 
already covered it, as with a filmy gauze. The colors 
were all low-pitched but not yet extinguished. Here 
and there a green field made a subdued high light and 
gave the sombre plain an air of irrepressible vitality. 
Opposite, on the other side of the valley, were two 
tiers of gTay-black hills, flat walls of shade, with out- 
lines as distinct and jagged as if they had been cut 
out of giant pasteboard, the setting of some more than 
Wagnerian opera. Beyond the hills there lay a pur- 
ple cloud that mimicked the empty space that stretches 
along and beyond the horizon. But above the cloud, 
unreal in its isolation and its transcendent beauty, rose 
the solemn, snowy stillness of Mont Blanc. It was 
in the sunlight, in the light that for the rest of the 
world had already faded, and stood there palpitating 
rose and gold. The effect was tremendous. It was 
like a vision of the New Jerusalem, like the dazzle of 
walls of jasper, like a glimpse of another world, radi- 
ant, perfect, eternal. It laid such hold upon my 
spirit that I stood there, rooted to the spot, drinking 
in the almost supernatural beauty as a thirsty man 
takes water. I waited until the last touch of rosy 

52 



MOONLIGHT 



light had faded from the mountain, and the highest 
summit in Europe had passed with me into the night. 
Then I walked home slowly, as a man does who has 
seen a vision. 

When I reached the Chateau, the moon was shining 
brightly, and here in my great bare chamber was 
making broad patches of light upon the floor. It was 
a dream world of half lights and shadows, much too 
alluring to be disturbed. I could not light my lamp. 
I drew my armchair up to the great south window, 
threw myseK into the chair, and let the moonbeams 
carry me w^here they would. They seemed disposed 
to be very active. It is a solemn thing to sit in the 
moonlight quite alone ; more solenm in a great bare 
room like this than in the open, for the shadows are 
deeper, and space itself more unreal. 

Then Margaret came and sat in the chair opposite 
to me. 

Margaret is a woman now, in the very bloom of 
womanhood, but the moonlight is a tricksy thing, and 
in its own effortless way changed her back into a little 
girl of a dozen years. She looked as she did the fii'st 
day ever I saw her. My grandfather Percy field had 
occasion to spend a winter in New Orleans. He was, 
I think, interested in some cotton plantations. My 
mother and Charlotte and I went with him. We were 
little accustomed to hotels and boarding houses, hav- 
ing always lived in our own home, either at Uplands, or 
for a few months in cold weather at the house in town, 
and so it seemed wise and natural to hire a furnished 

53 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



house, and set up our own establishment, even though 
it be for only a winter. The house my grandfather 
Percyfield selected was a large, old-fashioned mansion 
at the country end of St. Charles Street. My grand- 
father Percyfield was a very dignified man, a gentleman 
of the old school, and would have looked strangely out 
of place in a new house with any show of pretension. 
But in those days, such would have been difficult to 
find in New Orleans, for the city was still suffering 
from the war and was in a sad state of poverty. Our 
house was square and low, with a gallery running 
around three sides of it, and detached buildings in 
the rear for the kitchen and servants' quarters. The 
house was built on an artificial terrace, and from the 
front gallery we could see the great chocolate-colored 
river flowing on to the Gulf and could catch a glimpse 
of the low, swampy shore opposite. The lawn sur- 
rounding the house was firm and well kept, and the 
orange and magnolia trees were irreproachable in their 
glossy orderliness. The house itself was much in need 
of paint, and there were unmistakable signs of shabbi- 
ness indoors, telling very plainly that for some years 
past there had been little spare money for replenish- 
ings. The former occupants had manifestly been 
gentlefolk, and had left that impress upon every room 
in the house. My grandfather Percj^eld had hired 
the estate of an agent in the city, and we knew no- 
thing of the owners, not even their names, for the 
agent, to my grandfather Percyfield's surprise, inserted 
his own name in the lease, and intimated not dis- 

54 



MOONLIGHT 



courteously that it would be acceptable if no questions 
were asked. To my boyish mind this little mystery 
added immensely to the charm of the old house, and 
from the first, I came to be very fond of it. It had 
no name that we knew of, and so my mother laugh- 
ingly christened it Hereford Hall, after the old Eng- 
lish place that her stanch Puritan forebears came 
from. It was probably as unlike the original Here- 
ford Hall as two houses could well be, but we all fell 
into the way of using the name, and it served very 
well to distinguish this temporary home from my 
grandfather Percyfield's place in Pennsylvania, which 
has been known as Uplands ever since the time of 
William Penn. My grandfather Marston's home was 
in Massachusetts. This gained me the nickname of 
Yankee among the more hot-headed little rebels of my 
playfellows, and got me into some trouble that winter. 
The little people had never surrendered, and though 
I was a peaceable enough lad myself, I was as keen 
an Abolitionist as my grandfather Marston, and hav- 
ing always been accustomed to speaking my mind very 
freely, I had plenty of quarrels on my hands during 
my first two or three weeks at New Orleans. After- 
wards when we got to know one another, this was all 
forgotten, and I never had warmer friends than among 
those same little rebels. 

There was a small cottage next to Hereford Hall, 
on the country side, a very small place indeed, but 
withal very pretty, for it was half buried in creeping 
vines and greenery of one sort and another. It was 

55 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



very neatly kept, too, in decided contrast to some of 
the larger and less tidy places on the opposite side 
of St. Charles Street. A few mornings after our estab- 
lishment at the Hall, I was walking up and down 
the gallery directly after breakfast. Charlotte was 
with me. TVe both had a child's dehght in the great 
river. It took us some days to get over our disappoint- 
ment that it was so muddy, but when my grandfather 
Percyfield exj)lained to us that had there been no sedi- 
ment in the great river, there had been no Xew Or- 
leans, or even Louisiana, that in bygone ages the river 
had emptied into the Gulf away up in Illinois, we 
were entirely comforted and came to look upon the 
chocolate-colored flood as a giant builder sending out 
long arms into the Gulf and adding sugar and cotton 
plantations by the hundred acres. I have noticed that 
when one knows the world chiefly as the content of a 
geography book, it gives one a thrill to find out that 
it is real. My earliest remembrance of New Orleans 
is the tremendous impression it made u^n Charlotte 
and me to find the Mississippi a reality. This child- 
like wonder has never left me, though I have since 
wandered over full half the globe. I remember say- 
ing to Charlotte the first time we were in Dresden, 
'• And this is Dresden ! " and the way she put her arm 
through mine, and snuggled up to me, told me that 
she felt the same delighted wonder. 

After we had taken a number of turns on the gal- 
lery, Charlotte went into the house, and I trotted up 
and down alone. It was my fourteenth birthday, I re- 

06 



MOONLIGHT 



member, and I felt very mannish indeed. I was still 
in knickerbockers, but I had on a real piccadilly collar, 
and was proud accordingly. I happened to glance 
over at the little cottao^e, and I saw something: there 
that made me quite forget the gi-eat river, my birth- 
day, the erect collar, and in fact everything else that 
had once made up my small world. The prettiest lit- 
tle girl that I had ever seen was looking through a 
gap in the hedge that separated the cottage grounds 
from ours. She was looking at the Hall, a little wist- 
fully I thought, and did not catch sight of me for sev- 
eral moments. When she did see me, she disappeared 
in a flash. But the mischief was already done. It 
was a case of love at first sight. I can see my little 
lady as plainly to-night as if she were sitting in the 
chair opposite to me in very truth instead of being 
there only in my fancy. The prettiness of her face 
did not prevent its being strong She had rather 
prominent cheek bones, and a pair of dark brown 
eyes that I found afterwards could flash fire as well 
as look wistful. Her hair was abundant and curly, 
and of a very light chestnut color. In the sun it 
looked almost yellow. This combination of dark eyes 
and light hair constituted her great beauty. She was 
neither blond nor brunette, but appeared sometimes 
one and sometimes the other. She was dressed in a 
plain blue frock made in the sailor fashion. I would 
have given all my birthday presents to have her re- 
main at the gap in the hedge for even two minutes 
longer. 

57 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



You must not think that I was a sentimental boy. 
I was imaginative and high-strung and all that, but 
not in the least bit sentimental. I had always had 
Charlotte and her little friends for playfellows, and 
was quite too accustomed to having girls aroimd to 
think about them one way or the other. I rather 
preferred games and occasions where there were both 
boys and girls, but that was simply because it was 
more picturesque. I had even then a very keen sense 
of color. I liked the girls' bright frocks and the 
varied lights that one sees in children's long hair. 
But a small boy in kilts with a very bright tie, or long 
curly hair, or flaxen locks cut in the Dutch fashion, or 
particularly red cheeks, or a broad sailor collar over 
a baby blue jacket, served the purpose equally weU. 
And I never cared to have girls on my walkiog trips. 
In the first place they could not go so far or so fast, 
and more important still they interfered with the 
swimming. I had a passion for the water, and a fash- 
ion of slipping out of my clothes and into the nearest 
pool or stream, that makes me think I must in some 
previous incarnation have been a primitive person 
living much in the open air, — I hope it was in Greece 
in the time of Pericles. Bayard Taylor used to say 
that he himself had once been a pine-tree, so fond was 
he of the pines. His place at Cedarcroft was within 
driving distance of Uplands, and my grandfather 
Percyfield used often to take Charlotte and me over 
there to see him. I don't know that I was ever a 
tree, but if so it must have been one with very long 

58 



MOONLIGHT 



limbs, perhaps a Lombai*dy p.-^plar, tall and srraigh: 
and slender. 

My grandfather Percyfield used to encourage this 
open air bathing, and often went out of his way to 
give me an extra chance, for he tiionght it made me 
sturdy ; he would racier haTe had me die than torn 
out a weakling. But he nsed to lan^ and tell me 
that if erer I got to be a painter it wonld certainly be 
in aquarelle. This was the nearest sqyproach to a pan 
that I ever knew him to get, except on one memorable 
occasion when it was by accident. 

From all this yon can see that I was jnst a heattl^, 
well-bred boy, and not at all given to tlie sentimentaL 
And yet this love afiEair of mine, the first and only 
one that I have ever had, was the most real thing tiiat 
ever came into my life. It did not progress very 
rapidly, and was anything bat smooth. I was rather 
a good-looking boy, thongh I have since grown to be 
a homely man. Bat I was counted a Yankee, and 
Margaret was a hot little rebeL She had another 
cause for disliking all of as, bat that I did not dis- 
cover until afterwards, I was not a secretiye lad, and 
having fallen suddenly in love^ I annonnced it with as 
much frankness as I shoald have done any other per- 
sonal discovery. My mother and Charlotte and my 
grandfather Percyfield showed the atmost good fee- 
ing about it. and even took the matter serioosty, which, 
considering that I was jnst foarteen, was an onosaal 
kindness. 

I have had many things to be thankful for in my 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



life, but above everything else tbat my people were 
well bred. 

I had plenty of time that winter for my love affair, 
for I did not go to school, but I rather suspect that 
in either case the result would have been the same. 
My grandfather Percyfield was a very original man, 
and seldom allowed me to go to school. He held that 
association with my mother and himself, and with the 
persons who had the entree of our house, would do 
more to educate me than the daily contact with per- 
sons of less quality. He was himself a born knight, 
and I never marveled that my grandmother should 
have fallen in love with him. With his ideas of 
courtesy, the rising generation seemed to him unman- 
nerly and bourgeois. It was his firm conviction that 
herding boys together in school made them dull and 
commonplace, and what was even worse, less reverent 
and knightly. So he preferred my swimming and my 
horseback riding and my desultory reading, even my 
love-making, to anything the schoolmasters could have 
given me. So little formal was my education that I 
fancied myself . growing up in great ignorance, and 
sometimes even envied what I took to be the larger 
knowledge of other boys. But I see now that my 
grandfather Percyfield was in reality a very subtle 
teacher, and that my education covered the whole 
twenty-four hours in place of the customary school 
session. My mother taught me French, and gave me 
her own love of poetry and color. My grandfather 
Percyfield had a great appreciation of French, though 

60 



MOONLIGHT 



he could not speak a word of it himself, but he had 
keen literary instincts, and he was greatly impressed 
with the splendid directness of those books he had read 
which were translated from the French. He really 
directed my reading, though he did it so skillfully that 
at the time I never knew it. But the very heart of 
his creed was that at all hazards a man should be 
genuine. He tried to form my taste in literary mat- 
ters, but he always allowed me to read what I wanted. 
I only remember one book that he forbade my read- 
ing, and that was '^ The Children of the Abbey." I 
have often wondered why he objected to it, but though 
I have run across the book several times in different 
parts of the world, I have never opened it. The old 
prohibition seems as much in force now as when I was 
a boy. 

My grandfather Percyfield encouraged me to cnlti- 
vate a great many interests, and went to any amoimt 
of expense and trouble in furthering them. I was 
very fond of him, and, at the time, I thought he did aU 
this solely for my pleasure. And, indeed, this was 
so, but it was for a deeper pleasure than I recognized. 
It was his way of educating me. He denied me but 
one thing, and that was music. He took me when I 
was a very small boy to hear Ole Bull play the violin, 
and occasionally we went to symphony concerts, and 
to the opera, but he would not allow me to be taught 
either the violin or the piano. My mother played the 
piano beautifidly, and I think that my grandfather 
Percyfield knew that, with my dreamy temperament, 

61 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I should grow to be passionately fond of music, and he 
feared that excessive practicing might injure my health. 
The sketching took me out of doors, so he encouraged 
that, and three times a week I went to a shabby little 
studio on Canal Street, and had lessons in drawing 
from an old French artist. 

In looking back upon the educational methods of 
my grandfather Percyfield, I feel that I am not enough 
of a pedagogue to pass judgment on them. They 
might not work in other families where there was 
not the same beautiful, cultivated mother, the same 
knightly grandfather, and the same charming little 
sister. But this I know, that I never think of my 
grandfather Percyfield without a great rush of affec- 
tion and gratitude. He put me in touch with life at 
first hand. He taught me reverence and manly cour- 
tesy. He filled my days with wholesome interests, 
and with tastes that have flourished with the years, 
and have made of life a constantly renewed delight. 
Now that I am a man, and getting on towards thirty, 
I see that no school or master, whatever else they 
might have taught me, could have done so much as 
this. I can look forward to old age without dread, 
and can anticipate immortality with joy, for it will 
take eternity to do all the beautiful things that I have 
in mind to do. 

In all of his plans, my grandfather Percyfield was 
more than seconded by my mother, and owed much of 
his success in carrying them out to her goodness and 
ability. But I cannot yet bring myself to speak of 

62 



MOONLIGHT 



my mother, for her loss has been the one tragedy in 
an otherwise sunny life. 

Margaret was only twelve that winter, but she 
already went to school. Her grandfather and her 
uncle had both been killed in battle, fighting for the 
Confederacy, and her own father, though he survived 
the war by several years, died eventually from the 
effects of its exposures and hardships. He had been 
a mere boy when he enlisted, and was still a young 
man when he died. Margaret had never seen her 
father, and worshiped his memory as small Catholics 
worship the saints. Only she and her mother were 
left, and Aimt Viney, a colored woman, who had been 
Mrs. Ravenel's slave, and who refused to leave her 
when the family fortimes fell low. Aunt Viney always 
called Mrs. Eavenel " Mis' Lucy," and never ad- 
dressed my little lady other than as " Miss Marg'ret." 
Aunt Viney was my friend from the very first. She 
had my grandfather Percyfield's ideas of quality, and 
liked what she was pleased to call my pretty manners. 
How she ever stomached my being a Yankee I never 
knew. She probably put it down as a diseasQ, which 
I might in time outgrow. 

It was a trial to have Margaret trot off to school 
five days in the week, but with all their other troubles 
I suppose it was too much to expect Mrs. Ravenel to 
teach her at home. Besides their graver human losses, 
the war had involved nearly aU of their fortime, and 
at that time they were very poor. It is no wonder 
that Margaret was a rebel. The blue sailor frock did 

63 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



service all winter, and, in my fancy, it is the one she 
always wears. I had innocently supposed that she 
wore it so much because she looked so beautiful in it, 
but Charlotte told me one day, with a look of real 
surprise and distress in her own blue eyes, that it was 
because Margaret had no other. We could not at all 
understand how this came to be, for at that time we 
knew as little about social economy as Marie Antoi- 
nette herself. My grandfather Percyfield supplied all 
our own wants most liberally, but he never allowed us 
to have any money, for he held that children grow up 
with a far more generous spirit if they give and receive 
without any thought of exchange. Had I ever offered 
to render him any little service for pay, he would have 
scorned me as a miserable little trader, even were the 
coin a box of sugar-plums. Fortunately I never did, 
for he had trained me too well for that. In my boy- 
ish way, I was as punctilious as he. 

The Ravenels were as gently bred as the Percyfields, 
and, under pressure of their poverty, held their heads 
even a little bit higher. This made them very hard 
to get acquainted with, and, for a time, not even the 
combined sagacity of Hereford Hall succeeded in 
breaking the ice. I might prance up and down the 
gallery as much as I pleased, no face appeared at the 
gap in the hedge. It was, of course, impossible for a 
well-bred boy deliberately to watch the cottage, but 
when, in the course of my gallery promenades, I had 
to face it, it was at least permissible not to turn my 
head away. In this manner, I got frequent glimpses 

64 



MOONLIGHT 



of Margaret, but the hedge was so high that it was 
seldom of her face. At home she never wore a hat, 
and it was usually the glint of her hair, as she flashed 
in and out of the sunshine, that caught my eye. I 
was in hopes that Mrs. Ravenel would call on my 
mother, but that did not happen, at least not until 
several weeks afterwards. It was to an accident that 
I finally owed an acquaintance with my lady. I had 
been out on one of my long walks, and on the way 
home had fallen in with two little boys, who turned 
out to be very hot-blooded little Southerners. Every- 
thing went very well, however, until we got almost to 
the Hall. It was my own fault, I am sure, for I made 
some foolish and unnecessary remark about slavery, 
and then, quite before we knew exactly what had hap- 
pened, my two little hot-bloods and I were in the 
midst of an energetic fight. No great mischief was 
done, however, for it was called off almost immediately 
by a child's imperious voice. 

" Randolph ! Peyton ! Shame on you ! Since when 
has it been the custom for Southern gentlemen to fight 
two to one ? " 

The voice was absolutely withering in its sconi,*and 
made us all drop our hands instantly. It was Mar- 
garet. She happened to be on her way from school. 
I did not even know her name, but I had my wits 
about me and was quite resolved to make the most of 
my opportunity. I bowed in a manner that was a 
very good imitation, I think, of the way the heroes in 
the Waverley novels bowed, and said, with the air o£ 

65 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the grand but contrite gentleman, " I am very sorry. 
It was all my fault. Please don't blame your friends." 

The boys were pleased to consider this very hand- 
some behavior, though indeed it was but the truth, 
and were profuse in their denials and apologies. I 
was afraid that in this general flood of amiability 
Margaret might escape, so I turned to her and said, — 

" It seems that we were all to blame, and that you 
have been the good angel to the three of us." 

I thought this a very pretty speech and I could 
see that it made some impression. Margaret nodded 
her head in a comical little way that was intended to 
be gracious, and again I was afraid to lose her, so I 
hurried on, — 

" I should like to know such generous enemies. I 
am Master John Percyfield, of Hereford Hall." 

Margaret stepped forward with the air of a lady 
quite in society, and named the boys in her clear, 
imperious voice, " This is Master Randolph Beaure- 
gard, of Bellevue Plantation, and this is his brother, 
Master Peyton Beauregard." 

The boys shook hands with me very heartily, for 
they were as gentlemanly little fellows as I have ever 
seen. But again Margaret was escaping, and I had 
to be very quick in asking to be presented to her. 
Peyton happened to be in the better position, and said 
courteously, " Miss Margaret Ravenel." 

After that we all came down from our stilted lan- 
guage, and were four friendly children together. And 
indeed it was well, for my rhetorical high-horse would 

66 



MOONLIGHT 



soon have thrown me, and the Beauregard boys, 
though they went to school, could not, I think, have 
outridden me. I invited the three children to come 
to the Hall and play with Charlotte and me. Mar- 
garet had first to ask her mother's permission, and I, 
as self-appointed knight, must needs carry the satchel 
of schoolbooks and await the answer. Mrs. Ravenel 
was not at home, but Aunt Viney bade Margaret go. 
This in itseK was a bit of good fortune, for I rather 
fancy that Mrs. Ravenel would have found some ex- 
cuse for withholding her permission. 

It was in those prehistoric days, you must remem- 
ber, before lawn tennis came into vogue at New Or- 
leans, when the children still played croquet. Peyton 
obligingly said that he would watch the game, so that 
Charlotte and Randolph might play against Margaret 
and me. I had considerable skill in putting the balls 
where I wanted them to go, and naturally I played 
my very prettiest. Charlotte had kindly arranged the 
matter of partners, but she did not by any means give 
us the game. She was a bit of a coquette, and had no 
willingness to appear less than her best in the eyes of 
either Randolph or Peyton. Then my mother came 
out on the lawn, and had Susan fetch us lemonade 
and cakes. I was in the seventh heaven, for there is 
nothing like a hotly contested game to make people 
feel very chummy, and Margaret and I having been 
both partners and victors, were by that time fast 
friends. 

Our little party was presently interrupted by a 
67 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



prolonged musical whistle, which meant, " Margaret, 
come home:" Margaret answered in a higher key, 
with a pretty little aria, w^hich meant, " Yes, mother ; I 
am coming." Mrs. Ravenel was the first person that 
I ever met who could really whistle beautifully. She 
used often to accompany herself on the piano in this 
way, to the great delight of Charlotte and myself. 
Margaret had the same trick, but she was very apt to 
get an octave higher. 

After that first afternoon, Charlotte and I were in 
clover. With the exception of the one deep sorrow, 
we have both had very sunny lives, and have been 
more than ordinarily happy, but that winter at New 
Orleans stands out, I think, for both of us as the 
very brightest time of all. We had both my mother 
and my grandfather Percyfield, and then Margaret 
and Randolph and Peyton almost lived at the Hall. 
Randolph constituted himself the special knight of 
Charlotte, and I had Margaret. Peyton was one of 
those dreamy boys who seemed to need no special 
comradeship. He loved us all with the impulsive 
ardor of a child. In some of his ways he was almost 
girlish. He would come up and put his arms around 
me, just as my mother might have done, and kiss me 
two or three times at once. I should have resented 
this in Randolph, but with Peyton I could never be 
anything but pleased. He had sudden gusts of passion, 
but they were like April showers, and soon over. I 
never knew a child who was so completely idolized by 
other children as Peyton was. He was a strange little 

68 



( 



MOONLIGHT 



being, who seemed to us all as something rather finer 
than we could ever hope to be. 

As spring came on, we used often to go out to the 
plantation of the Beauregard family at Bellevue. We 
had rare sport racing over the fields, and playing in 
the half deserted slave quarters, or in the great sugar 
houses. But during the winter, if one may use so 
severe a term for anything so mild, Hereford Hall was 
the acknowledged headquarters. Charlotte and I, not 
being at school, had more time to arrange our inno- 
cent little fetes, and Charlotte is a bom hostess. Then 
we had both my mother and my grandfather Percy- 
field to help us in all our plans, and this they did 
without reservation, for they enjoyed seeing us happy, 
and they took themselves a personal pleasure in genu- 
ine gayety. Night after night my mother would play 
for us on the old square piano that formed a part of 
the furniture of our half shabby drawing-room, and 
the Lee children, and the younger Beaumonts, and 
the Masons, and the Tilghman girls, and the Magru- 
ders would come in, and with our pentagon, as Ran- 
dolph called our smaller and more intimate circle, we 
had enough for two sets for the lancers or a cotillion. 
When there were not enough for this, we made one 
set with double sides, and my mother, who was a 
skillful musician, always made the music hold out until 
we had finished the grand chain, or accomplished the 
requisite amount of visiting to neighboring couples. 

My grandfather Percyfield was always present. He 
invariably dressed for dinner, being in all these little 

69 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



matters more particular, I am afraid, than his grand- 
son. He made a dignified figure with his old-fashioned 
stock and quaint dinner coat. Occasionally Mrs. 
Eavenel came in, and sometimes Mr. and Mrs. Mason, 
or the parents of some of the other children. We 
kept open house that winter, as we always did at 
Uplands. My grandfather Percyfield welcomed every- 
body with sincere and old-time hospitality when they 
had once passed his careful initial scrutiny. We, on 
our part, were soon received in all the best houses, a 
result which I see now, in looking back upon it, was 
due entirely to the gentle courtesy and tact of my 
beautiful mother and my wise old grandfather, and 
not at all to our money. Indeed, the money would 
have been a serious obstacle had it been less delicately 
administered, for I have never found, even in Europe, 
a pride equal to that of these reduced first families of 
New Orleans. I am glad to think that they have 
since met with better fortune. 

At these delightful little parties, Margaret was 
always my chosen partner. In fact, we got into the 
habit, all of us, of dancing with the same girl or boy, 
a custom which added to our pleasure, if not to our 
skill in dancing. 

Susan and the other colored people stationed them- 
selves in the hall, and watched the dancing with the 
greatest dehght. Aunt Viney often joined them, but 
never stopped long unless "Mis' Lucy" were in the 
drawing-room. Her devotion to Mrs. Ravenel and 
Margaret was one of the most beautiful things I saw 

70 



MOONLIGHT 



in New Orleans, and when I came to be included in 
the affection of this rare old colored woman, I felt as 
honored as if an empress had taken notice of me. 

The refreshments were always very light, usually 
lemonade and the simplest sort of cake ; or, on special 
occasions, ice-cream with some home-made sponge- 
cake. Susan only brought the goodies to the table in 
the hall. Young as we were, my grandfather Percy- 
field always had us boys do the serving, for he held 
that this, too, was an accomplishment. He was him- 
self very dexterous with his hands, and took no little 
pride in his salad dressings and simple feats of cook- 
ery. At Uplands we always had scallops for our 
Sunday morning breakfast during the season, and my 
grandfather Percyfield always cooked them himself, 
using an old sUver chafing-dish that Pompey deposited 
with much ceremony on a small table at the left of 
my grandfather Percyfield's armchair. I think that 
this was the one thing that Pompey did not approve 
of in my grandfather Percyfield. Otherwise he quite 
idolized him, but this skill in cookery he regarded as a 
weakness in the quality, and took no pains to conceal 
his disapproval. Pompey had much the same feeling 
about us boys when we handed around the refresh- 
ments. When his resentment got too much for him 
he would suddenly disappear from the hall, and, retir- 
ing to the servants' quarters, would pick the banjo 
most viciously. Aunt Viney took a different view of 
the case. She was quite as aristocratic in her views 
of life as ever Pompey was, but she had a sharp eye, 

71 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



this old woman had, and she preferred the little Liow 
that Peyton or I made, when we presented a glas-^ of 
lemonade or a plate of ice-cream to her " Mis' Lucy," 
to the most skillful genuflexions of which Pompey was 
capable. She often rewarded me with open commen- 
dation when I came back for a plate of cake, " Yo' 
done thet beautiful, honey, fo' shuh." 

At nine o'clock our little parties broke up. My 
grandfather Percyfield was inexorable on this point, 
and when we coaxed him for just one more reel or 
cotillion, he always told us that we had to get all of 
our beauty sleep before twelve o'clock. I think he 
was sincere in his regard for our good looks. It was 
a part of his creed that men should be strong and 
women should be beautiful. I have often thought 
how splendidly he and my mother illustrated this 
creed, for they compared well with the best that New 
Orleans had to offer. 

These little dances came once a week, and usually 
of a Friday night, so as not to interfere with the other 
children's school-going and lessons. Randolph and 
Peyton always stopped at the Hall overnight. As 
we liked to sleep in the same room, my mother gave 
me the large front chamber that had evidently been 
meant for guests, and added an extra little bed so that 
it would accommodate the three of us. Randolph 
slept in the single bed, and Peyton and I shared the 
old-fashioned four-poster. We named the four posts 
after the four evangelists, getting the idea, I suppose, 
from the child's verse, — 

72 



MOONLIGHT 



" Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 
Bless this bed that I lie on." 

Being bom aristocrats, both of us, we made Matthew 
and Mark take the two posts at the foot of the bed, 
and gave Luke and John the better places at the head. 
As we went around in order, my part of the bed was 
between John and Matthew, and Peyton's lay between 
Luke and Mark. Usually, however, we did not ob- 
serve any boundaries, but slept with our arms around 
each other. 

I had had a little brother once, younger than myself, 
but he had died. It seemed to me that Peyton came 
to take his place. Peyton was a little younger than 
I, and, as I have said, a singnilarly lovable child. As 
we were both of us as imaginative small boys as you 
could well find, we acted out the role so thorougiily 
that we almost came to believe that we were brothers. 
But this introduced a difficulty that at first seemed 
almost insurmountable. I always thought of Morris 
as a little boy angel, and to me he had a very real ex- 
istence. I prayed for him every night, just as I did 
for the other members of my family. I was bothered 
to see how Morris could be in heaven, and at the same 
time in my own four-posted bed. 

It was Peyton who saw the way out. He suggested 
that as he slept with me, as a rule, only once a week, he 
was my angel-brother on a visit. Nothing coidd have 
suited my lively imagination better. As soon as we got 
into bed, he was Peyton no longer, but Morris. The 
fiction of the four evangelists helped out the illusion. 

73 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



But after that, I made Peyton sleep without any 
nightgown, for in all the pictures of boy angels I had 
seen, they never wore any clothing. As we had plenty 
of good warm coverings, I think that Peyton caught 
no colds as the result of my realism. He was, indeed, 
the picture of an angel. He was a very fair child, 
and he had the most beautiful little body that I have 
ever seen. When I put my arms around him, I think 
that even a less vivid fancy than mine could have mis- 
taken him for a being from beyond the gates of 
jasper. 

Nor did the more difficult part of our drama appall 
us — I mean the text. Being an angel, Peyton had 
to talk like one. He had to tell me all about the New 
Jerusalem, and whether there was any swimming there, 
and what he and the other boy angels did to amuse 
themselves. While I, being still on earth, had to tell 
Peyton all the good things I could think of, that I 
knew the angels would be glad to hear about ; and 
also all the dreadful things that I had ever seen or 
read about, so that the angels could come down and 
put an end to them. This curious fiction was kept 
up all wdnter without the slightest loss of interest 
on the part of either earth or heaven, and as it was 
renewed every week, it grew to be a continued stoiy 
of astonishing length and detail. 

Randolph was much less imaginative than we, and if 
we talked too loud, he would call out in a sleepy way, 
" Oh, keep still over there, can't you." Then Peyton 
and I would snuggle down very quietly until we heard 

74 



MOONLIGHT 



Randolpli's regular breathing and knew that he was 
asleep. Once Peyton fell asleep while we were wait- 
ing, and I think he must have been an angel, for I 
remember that he was not at all vexed when I woke 
him up and asked him to tell me what happened 
next. 

On these nights we completely lost oar beauty 
sleep, — perhaps that is the reason I grew up to be 
homely, — and occasionally, when there was something 
particular going on in the Xew Jerusalem, we did not 
get to sleep until one. But it made less difference 
than it might have done, for on Saturday morning we 
were never called, but were allowed to have our sleep 
quite out. Indeed, my grandfather Percy field would 
never allow either Charlotte or me to be wakened in 
the morning unless we were going on a journey, and 
it was absolutely necessary. He had an almost reli- 
gious respect for sleep, as he had for all Nature's 
processes, and never willingly interrupted it. Often 
Peyton and I woke up to find the bright sun shining 
in through the cracks in the Venetian blinds, and 
Randolph gone for two or three hours. Morris never 
outlived the night. In the morning, it was always 
Peyton that I had my arms around. Then we got 
up and had our bath together right merrily, and as 
soon as we could dress, Susan got us our breakfast. 

Sometimes now, when my friends take me upstairs 
and show me their model nurseries, with the little 
brass bedsteads ranged along the wall in hygienic iso- 
lation, I feel a vague sort of pity for their lonely little 

76 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



occupants. A picture comes up before me of a great 
four-posted bed, with two little boys in the centre of 
it. One has on a long, white nightgown, and repre- 
sents life. The other little fellow, without any clothes, 
is very beautiful and represents the other life. And 
I wonder whether the warm human brotherhood, and 
the fancy flights heavenward, were not more than com- 
pensation for the fact that a trifle less oxygen per 
minute passed into each little pair of lungs. I remem- 
ber that my grandfather Percyfield counted it a part 
of our education, and after assuring himself that we 
had plenty of coverings and were not wakened in the 
morning, made no objection to this childish attempt 
to act out the poetry of life. He was even satisfied 
to lose the beauty sleep one night out of the seven, 
thinking that we were getting the greater beauty of 
spirit. 

More severe people said that my grandfather Percy- 
field spoiled Charlotte and me by allowing us to live 
such a joyous, natural life, and by doing so much for 
our comfort and pleasure. I am afraid that my grand- 
father Marston would have said so, and my aunt 
Percyfield made no secret of her opinion. But I 
think they were mistaken. Along with the pleasure, 
he gave us the desire to use it at its highest, and 
through our great love and admiration for him, he im- 
planted in us a sense of noblesse oblige that would, I 
verily believe, have taken us through fire and water, 
had there been any occasion for it. 1 may not speak 
so freely of myseK, for it would be unbecoming, but I 

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have seen Charlotte do things that would have been 
Worthy of a Roman matron of the most heroic period. 
It is not hardships that make men brave and women 
heroic. It is the ideas which they mix with their daily 
bread and butter. 

My grandfather Percyfield once gave me a little 
book, — it was Max Miiller's Memories, — and on 
the fly-leaf he wrote, " Strength and gentleness. Men 
have cultivated the one and women the other. Do 
thou cultivate both." I remember that I liked the 
sound of the words. There was something pleasant 
to my ears in the old-fashioned, mandatory English. 
But I did not haK comprehend their meaning. I am 
coming now to see what he meant, and with all the 
force that is in me, I am trying to follow his injunc- 
tion. 

Margaret enjoyed these little dances, as she did all 
forms of activity, but better still she liked our charades 
and private theatricals. It was her pet ambition to 
be an actress, and had Mrs. Eavenel been foolish 
enough to consent, I think that Margaret would have 
made a star. She had the physical qualities, the 
beauty, the voice, the carriage, but above all she had 
the spiritual equipment. There was a fire about her 
that shone out in her eyes and expressed itself in all 
her movements. It would have thrilled an audience. 
But as Mrs. Eavenel would not hear of such a thing, 
we had to get as much acting as we could in a private 
way. I helped with a good will, for I always wanted 
to please Margaret, but I looked upon the stage aU 

77 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the same as a very dangerous rival. Margaret was so 
imperious that I half expected Mrs. Kavenel sometime 
to give in. One day I told Margaret very positively 
that I meant to marry her just as soon as I was grown 
up. Boys do not realize that growing up is rather a 
gradual process. But Margaret tossed her head and 
said that she would not marry the king of England, 
for she was going on the stage. 

My first experience of Margaret's acting came near 
to being disastrous. My mother and Charlotte had 
gone into the more built-up part of the city, where the 
shops were, to do some errands. Randolph and Pey- 
ton were off on some excursion with their father. It 
was Saturday afternoon and Margaret and I were left 
to our own devices. She proposed that we should act. 
She was to be pursued by brigands, — we had recently 
seen the Seven Wonderful Escapes of the Lady of 
Lyons, — and just at the critical moment was to faint, 
when I, as the hero of the play, was to rush in and 
carry her off, quite imhurt in spite of the pistol shots 
that resounded on all sides. I had never seen Mar- 
garet act and did not know how well she could do it. 
It was agreed that she should run around the drawing- 
room table three times, and then faint. I was to rush 
in from the hall, and carry her off to the dining-room, 
which served as the castle of Monaco, and was sup- 
posed to be my own family seat. Margaret's fright 
was superb. Her eyes flashed. Her breath came in 
audible gasps. She darted hither and thither like one 
truly pursued. I could fairly see the brigands, and 

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in my excitement could scarcely wait for the time of 
rescue to come. When Margaret had gone around 
the table twice she threw up her hands above her head, 
and went down on the floor with a crash, as nearly 
lifeless a mass as I had ever seen. Thoroughly fright- 
ened, I rushed over to her, and raised her face in my 
hands and covered it with passionate kisses, begging 
her piteously to come back to life. Margaret darted 
to her feet like a little fury, vowing that I was the 
greatest stupid in the world, and half suspecting that 
I, too, was acting. I was greatly taken aback, but 
when I explained to her that she had forgotten to run 
around the table the third time and that I had been 
truly half scared to death, she saw the reasonableness 
of it and forgave me. I fancy, too, that the triumph 
for her acting more than balanced her very real anger 
at the kisses. 

Then we did the scene over again, more to her satis- 
faction, if not to mine. 

After that we often had fainting scenes, for it was 
one of Margaret's specialties. In truth, I have never 
seen any one do it better, even on the real stage. It 
inspired Charlotte and me with a wild desire to do the 
same thing, and finally we got to do it almost as well 
as Margaret, though I confess that we covered our- 
selves with bruises long before we did with glory. In 
reality it is very simple. You merely relax every 
muscle and let yourself go as completely as if you 
were falling on a feather bed. Two or three years ago, 
after Charlotte and I had seen a famous actress in a 

79 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



famous fainting scene, Charlotte recalled our own early- 
efforts in that line. We were sitting in the drawing- 
room at Uplands, and Charlotte wondered if I could 
still do it, now that I was six feet. I offered to try, 
and found to my surprise that though at least eleven 
years had passed since our winter at New Orleans, I 
could still faint to perfection. Poor Charlotte was al- 
most as much frightened as I was when Margaret 
fainted that first time, and to pay me for her fright 
made some cutting and highly moral remarks about 
how desirable it would be if one could remember use- 
ful accomplishments as easily as silly pranks. But I 
agreed with her so humbly that it ended by her laugh- 
ing and trying it herself. However, she has a much 
shorter distance to fall than I have. 

I got one comfort out of the castle of Monaco scene, 
even in its corrected form, and this was that having 
run off with the lady and brought her to my castle, 
the only logical thing to do was to marry her. Even 
Margaret admitted that. 

We did a great deal in the way of theatricals that 
winter. All the pentagon came to share Margaret's 
enthusiasm. We worked in some of the Lee children 
and the younger Beaumonts for the minor parts. We 
had sleep-walking scenes, and suicides, and duels, and 
hairbreadth escapes, the more thrilling the better. I 
am afraid, indeed, that our taste ran decidedly to 
melodrama. Usually the plot thickened and developed 
as we entered into the spirit of the play, but some- 
times Peyton and I put our heads together and got up 

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a more premeditated text. I had always to be careful, 
however, and not overact my part. Margaret was a 
very exacting stage manager, but she was very just in 
distributing the parts. Whenever I could, I contrived 
to take the part of the lover, if Margaret were the 
heroine, and in the more impassioned scenes I found 
it necessary to do at least some kissing. I could never 
get Margaret to like this part of my acting, but she 
sometimes submitted for artistic reasons. She was 
not a young lady, however, to permit any liberties, and 
I liked her the better for it. Peyton told me that 
once Fletcher Mason had taken Margaret out in a 
boat and when they got some distance fi-om shore, he 
said, " Now, Margaret, I 'm going to kiss you." " No, 
you 're not, Fletcher Mason," cried Margaret. " Yes, 
I am," said he, making a move as if he were really 
going to do it. With that, Margaret sprang out of 
the boat into the water and tried to make her way to 
the shore. Fletcher was frightened almost to death, 
for the water was deep, and he had much ado to save 
Margaret from drowning. 

Mrs. Lee was so impressed with one of our im- 
promptu scenes, that she was for having us get up a 
regular play and invite our friends to see us act it. 
But my grandfather Percyfield put her off. He much 
preferred that we should make up our own plays and 
have only casual and informal audiences. I see now 
why he did. How shrewd he was, my dignified, af- 
fable old grandfather Percyfield, and what a subtle 
educator. At Christmas, however, he did give Mar- 

81 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



garet a very pretty toy theatre, with scenes and figures 
for giving Hamlet, and he got us a number of paper 
copies of the play. This was not so much fun as act- 
ing ourselves, but it was a change, and it did what my 
grandfather Percyfield evidently meant that it should 
do, — it made us intimately acquainted with a great 
play. Ophelia was usually taken by Margaret and I 
commonly managed Hamlet. Margaret coached me 
on the soliloquy, however, for she thought I did not 
put enough tragedy into it. It was not convenient for 
more than about five to play with the theatre, and so 
each of us assumed one major and several minor parts. 
I am sure that Margaret knew the whole play by heart, 
and the rest knew it pretty nearly. 

Later, my grandfather Percyfield got us five copies 
of A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and encouraged us to 
make the scenery and figures ourselves. I remember 
that Peyton managed the whole thing, for it was a 
play well suited to his imaginative nature. 

It was my grandfather Percyfield also who suggested 
that we might make plays out of the Waverley novels. 
I had already read the greater part of them, but I was 
very glad to reread them under this fresh incentive 
and in the good company of the pentagon. My grand- 
father Percyfield often joined us, as did my mother, 
and they took their turn in the reading, or helped 
us with any long words. I remember, however, that 
they never told us the meaning of any unusual word 
unless we asked for it, and seldom added any informa- 
tion outside of the story unless there was the most 

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natural occasion for it. I think that on the whole, 
Ivanhoe was our favorite, though Charlotte rather in- 
clined to The Talisman. We acted parts of Ivanhoe 
with great spirit. It happened to be my first choice 
of characters, and of course I took the title role, dress- 
ing myself in one of Charlotte's old plaid dresses, and 
baring my legs and knees in genuine Scotch fashion. 
When Margaret announced that she would be Kowena, 
my happiness was complete. She wore a white petti- 
coat of her mother's, and trimmed it with a flounce of 
green tissue paper that rustled most delightfully when 
she walked. Charlotte, in spite of her blue eyes, had 
to be Rebecca, and Randolph made a splendid Knight 
Templar. He had a long cloak of white tissue paper, 
with a light blue Maltese cross on the back of it, and 
in his cap he wore white and blue plumes. As I re- 
member him, I think he would have made a better 
Lohengrin than Templar, but at the time, we thought 
his costume very suitable and very fine. Peyton was 
curiously obstinate. There were no very nice people 
left, it is true, but Randolph and I offered to give up 
either the Templar or Ivanhoe. However Peyton stuck 
to it and would be Sir Walter Scott. We represented 
to him that he could not be Sir Walter Scott, as he 
did n't come into the book once, but Peyton was whim- 
sical and would have it that without Sir Walter, the 
rest of us would be nowhere at aU, and that he had to 
come to keep the rest of us in existence. This seemed 
out-and-out nonsense to Randolph, and it was even 
somewhat of a strain on my own loyalty. We neither 

83 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of us had the wit to see that Peyton was by all odds 
the deepest philosopher in the pentagon. 

Peyton had his way, however, and when he appeared 
in riding boots and jacket, whip in hand, and at- 
tended by two great hunting dogs from the plantation, 
he made a capital master of Abbotsford, and proved 
to be quite the star of the occasion. His talk was 
so droll that I thought my grandfather Percyfield 
would have hurt himself with laughing. Peyton spoke 
of us and our affairs as if we were so many dolls, and 
could hear nothing of what was said. He speculated 
as to whether he had better kill the Templar off and 
make Ivanhoe fall in love with Rebecca. Then he 
discussed the events of the tourney just as if they 
might have turned out other than they did. We were 
all so taken aback by this high-handed behavior on 
the part of our usually shy and complaisant Peyton, 
that even Margaret became a puppet, and the game 
was all in Peyton's hands. 

My grandfather Percyfield was delighted. He leaned 
over to my mother and said, " We are making pro- 
gress, are we not ? " My mother smiled and nodded. 

I noticed from the very first that Margaret showed 
an astonishing familiarity with Hereford Hall. Often 
she would tell me where things were that I did not 
know myself. For some time she evidently thought 
that Hereford Hall was the name of our place in 
Pennsylvania. But Charlotte and I frequently spoke 
of Uplands, and so the two places must have got 
pretty well mixed up to Margaret. Children seldom 

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MOONLIGHT 



explain things. They take it all for granted. The 
other child must put two and two together and reach 
such conclusions as he may. It was this that made 
my grandfather Percyfield contend that children are 
better teachers than are the grown-up people, and 
always follow the most advanced German method. 

One day it suddenly became clear to Margaret that 
by Hereford Hall we meant our New Orleans home. 
" Why, this is not Hereford Hall," she exclaimed, in 
high disdain, " this is Arlington. My grandfather 
named it so, himself." 1 maintained stoutly that it 
was Hereford Hall. " Well," said Margaret, proudly, 
" who should know the better, we who have been born 
here, or a stranger ? " Then I could see that she was 
sorry to have said anything. 

So the little mystery about our place was solved. 
It was Margaret and her mother who were our land- 
lords. But later, we could not help knowing the 
rest of the story. The old mansion, it seems, was so 
covered with mortgages that all the rent went to 
the holders of these papers, and none to our neighbors 
in the cottage. It was hard for them to see stran- 
gers in their old home, and especially Northerners, 
for the home, like all the rest, had gone through de- 
votion to the Lost Cause. This was the reason that 
Mrs. Ravenel came so seldom to the Hall, and that it 
had been so difficult at first to get acquainted with 
them. 

Once, when Margaret was sitting on the sofa in the 
drawing-room, she looked at me for some time, and 

85 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



then said, abruptly, " No ; I could never marry a 
Yankee." 

*^ Well," said I, hotly, " ladies usually wait until 
they are asked; " and in a minute I would have given 
my pony not to have said it. 

Margaret came over and kissed me very gently, — 
a most unusual thing for her, — and said, '' Don't be 
vexed, John, you can't help it." For the moment, I 
fear me, I was not entirely loyal to my good grand- 
father Marston and the Federal cause, for just then I 
should much have liked not to be a Yankee. 

We had our little squabbles, Margaret and I, and 
sometimes a tiny storm even passed over the pentagon, 
but on the whole, I doubt whether there were in all 
the world five happier children than we were. 

In the late spring we went back to Uplands, my 
mother, my grandfather Percyfield, and Charlotte and 
I. Pompey and Susan came with the most of our 
belongings a day or two later. Arlington, or Here- 
ford Hall, as I must still call it, never looked more 
beautiful. To me it was like paradise lost. The fresh 
blossoms and greenery covered up the shabbiness of 
the old mansion and turned it into a veritable bower. 
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the air 
was full of life. But the household itself was very sad, 
and no one save my brave old grandfather Percyfield 
made the least attempt to conceal the fact. As for my- 
self, I thought my heart would break. Not even the 
fact that I kissed Margaret a great many times, and 
that she put her arms around me and kissed me, could 

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MOONLIGHT 



bring mucli comfort. It was almost as hard parting 
with Peyton. I loved the boy in a way as deeply as I 
loved Margaret, and we had lived in such intimate 
comradeship that it was like giving up a part of myseK 
to leave him. Poor Aunt Viney was loud in her lamen- 
tations when she came to say good-by to Charlotte and 
me, but she loved my beautiful mother best of all. 
Aunt Viney covered my mother's hand with kisses, 
and said, brokenly, " Oh, honey, I mos' wish you 'd 
nevah 'a' come. I declar' to gracious I do, fo' I'll 
nevah see yo' agen, nevah agen." Then Aunt Viney 
threw her apron up over her head and crept off to her 
own quarters. 

Mrs. Ravenel, I think, was the only one who was 
glad to see us go. She had suffered so deeply for the 
Confederacy that she never quite forgave us for being 
Yankees. She was a gentle, weU-bred woman, but 
she lived wholly in the past with her dead husband 
and father, and this hostility to us was, I think, only 
a subtle part of her loyalty to them. Mrs. Ravenel 
would not let Margaret promise to write to me, or 
even to Charlotte, but put us off by saying that doubt- 
less we would be back again the following winter. 

But we never went back, and I have never again 
seen one of the people who made that winter in New 
Orleans such a red-letter time in our lives. 

Many things happened at Uplands. I went to 
Harvard, and later, Charlotte was at Bryn Mawr. 
Then my gallant old grandfather Percyfield died, 
courteous and brave to the last, and after that came 

87 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



the sudden tragedy of my mother's death. We heard 
nothing of the Kavenels except a stray rumor that 
they had recovered most of their property, and were 
again established at Arhngton. But I never for an 
instant forgot Margaret, or Randolph or Peyton. Curi- 
ously enough, neither Randolph nor Peyton grew up 
in my mind. I thought of them, and do still, as little 
boys, just as I left them at New Orleans. Randolph 
has become a trifle vague, but the dear Peyton remains 
a very real presence. . Many a little boy have I loved 
and gone out of my way to serve, simply because of a 
chance resemblance to Peyton. I had such an encounter 
once when I was at Ziirich, working out the geological 
arbeit that was to make me a doctor of philosojDhy. 
It was one Sunday morning. I was climbing the 
steep hill to the west of Niederurnen, and noticed a 
man and boy some distance from the path. I spoke 
to them, as I always did to the peasants whom I met, 
but they were so earnest in their talk that they did 
not see me. I went on through the wood, the path 
growing steeper and steeper all the time. Finally I 
got quite out of breath, and had to sit down on a large 
stone to rest. The man and boy came up the path 
and found me there. They stopped and spoke with 
me in very friendly fashion. The man could speak 
German, but the little boy, whose name was Fridolin, 
spoke only the Swiss dialect, and so the man obligingly 
acted as our interpreter. After a moment, the man 
said to me, " Wert thou not going up the mountain ? " 
" Oh, yes ! " said I, " but I am afraid that I shall not 

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MOONLIGHT 



be able to go as fast as you do." " In that case," 
said he, with a courtesy that would have done credit 
to Lord Chesterfield, " we wiU go as slowly as thou." 
We had an hour's climb, and a very pleasant one, too, 
for at every step I was getting more and more attached 
to Fridolin. I showed him my compass and my geologi- 
cal hammer, and the little instrument I have for meas- 
uring the dip of the rock. Our path ended in one of 
those wild httle valleys common enough in the lower 
Alps, and especially in the region between the Linth 
and the Sihl. It was only used in summer, and 
the rude little chalet, that we saw at some distance, 
was Fridolin's summer home. It was already ten 
o'clock, but not an animal or a person was to be seen. 
The rich, green pasturage that crunched under our 
feet as we walked through it had apparently no 
tenants. But I was soon undeceived. My peasant 
asked if I should not like to see their fine cattle, and 
took me into a long, stone stable. Fridolin would not 
come in, but left us at the door. I gave him a piece 
of silver as an andenhen. He thanked me shyly, and 
ran off to the chalet without saying good-by. I was 
curiously disappointed. However, I followed the peas- 
ant into the stable, and had to share his enthusiasm, 
for I saw a lot of beasts finer than anything that had 
ever graced our own barns at Uplands, and my grand- 
father Percyfield prided himself on his stock. It . 
seems that they do not let the cattle out until the 
dew is off the grass, and this accounted for the de- 
serted appearance of the valley, and also perhaps for 

89 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the splendid condition of the animals. When we 
came out of the stable, I was surprised to find Fri- 
dolin waiting for us. Something evidently had disap- 
pointed him. He had gone to seek me a flower. His 
garden consisted of several boxes fastened up in the 
trees, so as to be out of the reach of the goats, but 
though Fridolin had scrambled up to every box, he 
could not find me a single flower, for it was still too 
early. He had come back to tell me, and also to say 
good-by. I was quite touched by this little attention, 
and left the child most unwillingly. I took myself 
to task for being a soft-hearted, foolish fellow. Then 
it suddenly flashed over me that Fridolin resembled 
Peyton. In reality, I had been saying good-by again 
to my little playfellow, my angel brother, and that 
accounted for the pain. 

It was the same at Florence. If you remember, 
there is a picture there of Endymion sleeping. It 
hangs directly over the door in that celebrated octago- 
nal chamber in the Uffizi. It was painted by Guer- 
cino, an artist that I greatly love, for in aU of his 
people, — saints, madonnas, shadow folk, — there is 
a human tenderness so sweet and touching that it 
more than makes up for any technical deficiencies of 
line or color. I used always to go to Endymion every 
day I went to the gallery. It was the second picture 
I visited. I did not know for several days why I hung 
over it so persistently : it is a veritable portrait of 
Peyton. 

But there is another pictm^e — it is in the Pitti — 
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MOONLIGHT 



that I always visited first. It is a madonna of Muril- 
lo's, not the madonna of the rosary, but the other one 
that hangs near it on the same wall. It is the only 
picture in all the world before which I should like to 
kneel and pray. The sweet face of the madonna is 
in reality the face of my beautiful mother. You wiU 
not blame me that I often speak to her aloud, as peo- 
ple do when they pray. I have a copy of the picture 
in my room at Uplands, one of those soft carbon 
prints, such as you can buy in Florence, and it is the 
best portrait of my mother that we have. 

The galleries of Europe are curious places, at once 
haunting, ecstatic, painful, for in them are hung the 
portraits of every friend ever we had, and even of 
most of our acquaintances. Margaret is the central 
figure in a celebrated old picture in the Louvre, and 
Charlotte's laughing eyes are on every canvas that 
ever Madame Le Brun painted. 

But while Randolph and Peyton always remain 
boys in my thought and never grow an inch taller or 
a year older, Margaret has ever been a progressive 
figure. Her image has a way of slipping back in 
point of time to the long, down-falling hair, and the 
familiar blue gown made in the sailor fashion, but her 
intelligence, her spirit, has grown along with mine. 
Much has happened to her. She has been to two 
great universities ; she has wandered over half the 
globe ; she has seen the chief galleries of Europe ; 
she has listened to many a grand symphony and opera 
on both sides of the water ; she has read a library of 

91 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



books ; she knows a little German ; she speaks French 
and Italian ; she has studied geology, and has dabbled 
a little in philosophy, and even in mysticism, — in a 
word, she has done all that I have ever done. But 
she is very far from being a mere projection of myself. 
If she were only that, I should not at all love her. 
On the contrary, she has a distinct personality. The 
reaction from all this experience is different in her, 
for she is a woman. It is curious that she shoidd 
have so much personality. There are times, such as 
to-night, when it seems impossible that she is merely a 
dream woman, so real is she. But I am just as con- 
scious of this distinct personality as I am of the sweet 
smeU of her hair, or the depth of her eyes. 

Even Margaret's opinions are different from mine. 
Sometimes I defer to them, and occasionally I resist 
them, as being perhaps not so good as mine. You 
see, Margaret is more practical and objective than 1 
am, and always sees the immediate bearing of the 
matter in hand. I think she is also a little less re- 
ligious than I am, or perhaps I ought to say that she 
is more conventional in such matters, and sticks much 
nearer to the prayer-book than I do. I am conscious 
of a greater spiritual daring, a deeper assurance in 
divine matters than I have ever been able to give 
to her. 

It may seem strange that I can speak in this posi- 
tive manner about a dream woman, about the ideal 
Margaret, but you must remember that she has been 
my pla}^ellow, my comrade, for over a dozen years 

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MOONLIGHT 



now. Sometime, and I find her, she is to be my 
wife. 

By this time Margaret must be about twenty-six 
and a woman quite. And I am getting on towards 
twenty-eight, or rather twenty-nine. The real Mar- 
garet Eavenel may not be at all like my dream 
Margaret. The difference might even shock me. I 
do not allow myself to think of it. My own Marga- 
ret may even bear another name, but I should call her 
Margaret : I am sure of that. I never go out of my 
way to seek her, for that would be useless. Indeed I 
am almost a fatalist in the matter. Is it not the dear 
Emerson who says, '' The friend that thou art seek- 
ing is also seeking thee." 

I have met many charming women in the past six 
or eight years — having a charming sister helps one 
to it — and one would have thought that being a "phi- 
losopher and a man of sentiment," as Miss Polyhymnia 
has it, I might have fallen in love some time since. I 
have loved some of these charming w^omen in a gentle, 
brotherly way, but the great love, the gi^and passion, 
has always been for Margaret. If I never find her, I 
shall have to die a lonely old bachelor, but that w^ould 
be infinitely better than marrying anybody else. 

Sometimes I wonder whether I should recognize 
Margaret, if she happened not to have prominent cheek 
bones, and an oval, almost triangadar face, and spar- 
kling dark eyes, and sweet-smelling, chestnut hair; and 
when I think that, the tricksy moonlight brings again 
into the chair opposite to me a little girl in a blue 

93 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



frock, made after the sailor fashion, and the hot feel- 
ing in my heart is a curious mixture of pain and 
pleasure. 

The dinner bell is late in ringing to-night, but even 
then it comes too soon. When one has had a happy- 
childhood, and is still happy, the moonlight is a charm- 
ing thing. 



94 



CHAPTER IV 

ILLUSIONS 

It is my habit, when I am away from home, to lock 
my door of a night. It is not my habit, however, to 
search the closets, or like the old ladies in Cranford, 
to roll a ball under the bed to find out whether there 
is a man there. Indeed my room here at the Chateau 
is so big that I should be much put to if I had to go 
the rounds every night. 

When, therefore, I woke up the other night and 
found a man in my room, I remembered having locked 
my door, and concluded that hereafter I had better in- 
vestigate the wardrobe and look under the dressing- 
table before I went to bed, provided, of course, that I 
came out of the present adventure with a whole skin, 
and did not have my throat cut then and there. It 
was a short, heavily-built man of rather dark complex- 
ion. He was some distance away from the bed, and 
stood regarding me in no unfriendly way, but rather 
with an air of distinct interest, as much as to say, 
" Well, by all that 's good, what have we here ? " If 
he saw me at all clearly, he must have read the same 
expression on my own face, for I think I may say that 
I was equally, or even more astonished. I sat up in 
bed, — more quickly, I suspect, than I do of a morning, 

95 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



— and reached over to my little night table for a match. 
Whatever the adventure, I wanted to have a little 
light on it. I remember that the match burned very 
slowly, it was one of those foul sulphur matches, and 
it seemed an interminable time before I finally had my 
candle lighted. Then I thought to have a good look 
at my assailant, or my guest, whichever he should turn 
out to be, and discover his purpose. 

But there was no one there. 

I peered into the gloom of my big apartment as far 
as the light of a single candle would let me, and lis- 
tened with both my good ear and my game ear, — I 
could neither see nor hear the faintest trace of any 
visitor. Then, of course, I realized that it was an 
illusion. I have been wakened so many scores of 
times in just the same way that I blew out my candle 
in disgust, quite vexed to have taken the matter so 
seriously. But then I made excuses to myself, for 
this was the first nocturnal visitor that I had had at 
the Chateau, and I was unprepared. There used to 
be a taller man, with a reddish Vandyke beard, and 
a long black cloak, who came to see me several times 
last winter. I always suspected him of being a painter. 
But that was at Uplands, before we went into town. 

About a week later my short, dark man came 
again, and this visit pleased me still less than the 
first one. He stood alongside my bed, and was even 
stooping over me. As before, he wakened me out 
of a sound sleep, which I always hold to be a great 
impertinence, unless you have something very impor- 

96 



ILLUSIONS 



tant to say to a person. But my visitor had nothing 
at all to say. Apparently he wanted only the pleasure 
of a good look at me, which being a homely man, and 
well on towards thirty, I had never esteemed any very 
great privilege. This time he was dressed in black, 
evidently velvet, from the way it absorbed the light. 
The first time he had worn a doublet of green and 
blue plaid. He was so short and so stoutly built that 
I mistook him for a peasant, though the plaid would 
seem to indicate that he was one of Scotland's fore- 
bears come to see what she was up to, and had got 
into the wrong room. When my guest came attired 
in velvet, however, I knew at once that he could be 
none other than that particular duke of Savoy who 
had so often claimed my thought, and that the blue 
and gTcen plaid was merely a hunting doublet. Could 
he be looking for his Margherita, I wonder ; but no, I 
liked to think of them as united, this couple whose 
nuptial chamber I am occupying, and whose little son 
was born in this very room, and looked out of the 
same windows that now give entrance to the moonlight 
and to dreams. 

When I mentioned my nocturnal visitor at the 
table, there were various conjectures as to the purpose 
of his visit. England, with the instinct of her com- 
mercial island, would have it that the duke wished to 
tell me where some treasure was buried. He certainly 
owed me something handsome, after twice wakening 
me out of a sound sleep, for on both occasions I had 
much ado to get to sleep again. 

97 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



But apparently the duke's interest is satisfied, for 
he comes no more, and I am left alone with the dark- 
ness and the silence in my great chamber. Sometimes 
I quite wish that he would come, especially if he would 
speak to me. Of course, it would be in old-time lan- 
guage, but I think I could manage it, though I might 
have to say to him, as I do so often to the peasants, 
" Speak slowly, if you please." It would be a relief 
to see the duke, for since his visits I have been curi- 
ously unable to sleep. I practice usually until mid- 
night, and one would think that I ought to sleep, 
going to bed at that late hour. I lie perfectly still. I 
am warm and comfortable, quite happy and contented, 
but I sleep not. On the contrary I am more wide 
awake than at any hour of the day, and I have a curi- 
ous feeling that something is happening that I have 
not the wit to discern. 

This wakefulness on my part quite distresses the 
kind Chatelaine. She has placed my bed in different 
positions, so that my head may be to the north, to the 
south, to the east, to the west, but it is all in vain. 
The trouble evidently is not with the earth currents, 
and no amount of careful orientation will exorcise it. I 
don't like to think that Savoy resents my being here, 
for he pleases me, this old fellow, with his velvet 
doublet and his lover's heart. I am quite sure that 
we should be cronies, if he would only speak. 

But these shadow people of mine never do speak. 
They are such a silent crew that I am beginning to 
lose interest in them. Charlotte says they are trying 

98 



ILLUSIONS 



to teach me the virtue of silence. She has a theory 
that I talk too much. But if this be their mission it 
is quite time they got discouraged, for I have been 
under tutelage to them ever since I was a small boy. 
Not once have they spoken. At first they used to 
frighten me. I mistook them for robbers. But that 
was very foolish, for they were commonly old men, 
often with long, silvery beards and benign faces, not 
the sort of person to be interested to go arburgling. 
But these old fellows were persistent. They would 
come twice, even three times the same night, always 
rousing me from a sound sleep. They were much less 
considerate than my grandfather Percyfield. The first 
time I would sit up in bed and stare at the old man 
until he faded. The second time I would demand an- 
grily what he wanted. The third time I would spring 
out of bed and rush over to the corner to see if I could 
not lay hands on him. But I would find nothing. 

I do not know what theory my grandfather Percy- 
field had about these illusions, but he always dis- 
couraged my talking about them. If I did casually 
mention that I had seen " some one " the night before, 
he was pretty sure to look into my occupations even 
more carefully than usual, to see if I were studying 
too. hard or reading too much. When these investi- 
gations showed only normal activity on my part, I re- 
member that my grandfather Percyfield would arrange 
some outing that would involve good, hard, physical 
exercise, and tire me out as thoroughly as he dared. 
Then I would have no visitors for some weeks. 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



The winter we spent in New Orleans these visitors 
were particularly numerous, but they never came the 
nights that Peji;on slept with me. I spoke about 
them even less than usual, for I was old enough to 
see that it annoyed my grandfather Percyfield. Once 
I told Margaret about them, but she looked so awed 
and shrank away from me so that, hot httle lover that 
I was, you may be sure I never mentioned them to 
her again. She must have told Aunt Viney about it, 
however, for the old woman used to question me fur- 
tively, and once when she was watching us at our play 
I heard her say to herself : " He 'd make a grand 
voodoo, Marsa John woiUd. To think o' the child 
a-seein' speerits already. I 'd be phmi scared to death 
ef I was to see one, I declar' to gi^acious I would." 

I fancy that many children have similar experi- 
ences, or much more curious ones, but do not speak 
of them, either from a fear of being laughed at, or 
from a notion that they are quite common experiences, 
and that all people have them. The belief that one 
is peculiar is a disease of early adolescence, and sel- 
dom afflicts either children or grown people. The 
first are too ignorant, the others too wise. I always 
prick up my ears when I hear children speak of their 
mental experiences, and question them as far as I dare, 
but I try to stop far short of the line of self -conscious- 
ness, for I hold ^vith my grandfather Percyfield that 
no amount of knowledge would be justified if you had 
to pay this price for it. I can see now how tremen- 
dously careful he was to guard Charlotte and me from 

100 



ILLUSIONS 



it. I think it was one reason why he did not want us 
to go to school. He wanted to keep us children just 
as long as he could. And now I am deeply thankful 
to him for it. I can see that in so many ways I am 
still a boy, frankly happy, frankly affectionate, and, 
please God, I mean to remain so till the end. 

This habit of seeing people at night does not at all 
run in the family. At least I don't know of any 
cases. Charlotte used rather to envy me my experi- 
ences. She never had one of these illusions in her 
life — that is, never but once, and then it was so 
unique that both of us, if the truth be told, were 
a little bit frightened. It was while we were study- 
ing at Ziirich. The winter semester had just ended, 
and we were going into Italy the next day for our 
spring vacation. We both went to bed in a state of 
high excitement, for we had never been to Italy, and 
we were both wild to go. Charlotte's sleeping-room 
was next to mine, and it was agreed that I should 
knock on her door when I thought it was time for 
us to be getting up, — the St. Gotthard train went 
rather early in the morning. I had the matter so 
much on my mind that I got awake considerably 
earlier than necessary. It was just six o'clock, and I 
was not to call Charlotte until seven. But I was 
afraid to go to sleep lest I should not waken in time. 
As I lay there waiting, the thought suddenly came to 
me as to whether I should be frightened if I were to 
see my grandfather Percyfield standing at the foot of 
my bed. It seemed an altogether foolish thought, 

101 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



and I dismissed it as quickly as I could, but being 
careful to assure myself that I should not be in the 
least bit frightened. I am not at all superstitious, 
and regard signs and omens as Uttle as did Queen 
Emma when she threw her slippers into Kilauea. At 
seven I called Charlotte, and we both dressed and 
went upstairs to breakfast. Our sleeping-rooms were 
en 'parterre^ and we had pension on the second etage. 
It was a scramble to get off, for the droschke was late 
in coming for us ; but, driving down to the station, 
we had a chance to draw our breath, and Charlotte 
said to me : " I had such an odd experience this morn- 
ing ! I could n't sleep, and while I was lying there 
in bed I saw grandfather Percyfield sitting in a chair 
near the foot of the bed, and such a look of distress 
on his face as I have never seen in all my life. Do 
you think, kin, that he can be iU? " 

" What time was it ? " I asked. 

" It was just six o'clock," said Charlotte. '^ I looked 
at my watch a moment before. I was afraid you 
might oversleep." 

I am not ashamed to confess that I was startled. 
When I told Charlotte about my own experience, it 
took the combined force of Harvard and Brjm Mawi- 
to keep us from being sadly worried. We watched 
the mail anxiously for the next two weeks, and when 
the date of the home letters passed the day of our 
crossing the St. Gotthard without bringing us any 
bad news, we were both secretly much relieved. Then 
it was that Charlotte, the practical one, sat down and 

102 



ILLUSIONS 



wrote a full account of the matter to my grandfather 
Percyfield. She demanded to know what wicked 
thing he had been doing at that particular hour to 
make his devoted grandchildren so unhappy on his 
account. I can imagine the glee with which my 
grandfather Percyfield wrote back to her : " My dear 
Hypatia " — he called Charlotte this in deference, he 
said, to her vast erudition — " My dear Hypatia : 
Making allowance for the six hours' difference in time 
between Switzerland and Pennsylvania, I can say with 
reasonable certainty that at the fatal moment described 
so touchingly in your letter, I was blissfully sleeping 
in my own bed, in my own room, at Uplands. I may 
add that I was doubtlessly sleeping unusually weD, for 
I had been outdoors most of the previous day, giving 
Peter instructions about the spring planting. But I 
can easily explain your experience. It was your evil 
conscience at having written so seldom to your lonely 
old grandfather — only one letter a week, and at most 
not over eight pages." 

After that we were careful to send letters by both the 
Wednesday and the Saturday steamers, and to make 
the letters of goodly length. For once, I think my 
grandfather did not altogether disapprove of illusions. 
Charlotte has never seen another illusion, unless indeed 
before Frederic spoke she may have seen the ghosts of 
rival maidens, but if so, she never confided the fact 
to me. When my brave grandfather Percyfield did 
come to die, the event found us all as unprepared as 
people generally are for any great sorrow. 

103 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



But my own habit of seeing people at night has 
kept up with a persistence worthy of a better cause. 
The winter after we went home from Zurich, the 
shadow people came in swarms. Charlotte and I had 
expected to stop at Ziirich for two years, simply re- 
turning to Uplands for the summer. The town house 
had been rented for the two years, as my mother and 
my grandfather Percyfield preferred to remain at 
Uplands all winter. However, I found it entirely 
possible to finish my studies and get my degree of 
doctor of philosophy at the end of the first year, and 
so Charlotte and I trotted home, the maiden nothing 
loath, I think, for absence had made her fancy set in 
a certain direction more strongly than she had realized 
before. But the people who had our town house re- 
fused to give it up until the lease expired, and as 
Charlotte was quite bent on spending the winter in 
town, my grandfather Percyfield very good-naturedly 
hired a furnished house for four months. I think my 
mother and my grandfatlier Percyfield would have 
preferred the comfort and quiet of Uplands, for the 
year spent there had made them love country life even 
in winter. It was difficult to find a furnished house 
for so short a time, and for lack of something better 
we had to settle on an old place on South Broad 
Street, just before you come to Pine. It had been 
something of a house in its day, but was already far 
past its prime. I had the third-story front room, and 
one would have thought that the noise there had 
frightened away both illusions and sleep. Broad Street 

104 



ILLUSIONS 



at that time was paved with Belgian blocks, and was not 
desirable for residence. However, we had hardly got 
settled in the place before I began to have nocturnal 
visitors at a rate that was absolutely annoying. Not 
only old men and young men, but even whole families 
came to visit me. Before that I had never seen more 
than one person at a time. And the bother was that 
they came night after night, until I got into the 
way of expecting them. I would go to sleep without 
the least trouble, but after what seemed to me about 
half an hour, I was sure to be wakened. Sometimes 
I would find as many as four persons regarding me 
with the utmost attention. One night, I remember, 
a gentle, sweet-faced woman stood at the foot of the 
bed, and near her a young man who was perhaps her 
son. A young girl was by the bureau, and over in 
the corner, my customary old man. It was a curious 
counterpart of our own family group. But not one 
of the faces was familiar, nor do I remember ever to 
have seen any of them since. The four of them were 
absolutely staring at me. It was quite enough to 
make a sensitive man waken. When I sat up and de- 
manded impatiently to know what they wanted, they 
showed not the slightest embarrassment, but simply 
dissolved where they stood, — not a word, not a ges- 
ture, nothing but that intense regard directed always 
towards myself. 

These illusions are well bred in one respect, — they 
never turn their backs to me. In fact they never even 
show me their side faces. Nor do they investigate my 

105 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



belongings. It would be a very subtle compliment if I 
could ever find them looking over my manuscripts, 
but apparently these have no interest for the shadow 
people. They always look at me directly, square and 
full in the face, a regular broadside of illusion. 

They have another courtesy which makes them less 
uncanny than they would otherwise be, — they always 
stick to the floor, and have a proper respect for the 
furniture. If one of them stands at the foot of my 
bed, I see only that part of him which comes above 
the footboard. It would be much more disturbing if 
the shadow people plastered themselves over the walls 
and furniture hke so many posters. I am touched by 
this observance of the conventionalities. Only once 
was it broken. Then I woke to find the body of a 
man projecting from the headboard above me, the 
face, as usual, regarding me intently. I confess that 
this displeased me. It was at the old house on South 
Broad Street, but it never happened a second time. 

About that time, it chanced that we had two callers 
one evening who stopped with us rather late. One 
was a beautiful Southern woman, Mrs. Foster, who 
admired Charlotte very much, and was incidentally a 
friend of mine. The other was an old gentleman, 
Dr. Granger, who was somewhat interested in psycho- 
logy. Poor Charlotte was growing perceptibly sleepy. 
We had turned down the lights and were sitting 
around the open fire. It does make you sleepy to do 
this, if there is nothing very exciting to keep you 
awake, and Charlotte had nodded several times. By 

106 



ILLUSIONS 



way of coming to the rescue, I told Mrs. Foster and 
Dr. Granger about my shadow people, for they had 
just made a great record, coming every single night 
for two weeks rimning. Both of our friends were 
much interested, Dr. Granger making a few rough 
notes as I went on with the account, and Mrs. Foster 
looking at me with such a long focus to her eyes that 
she seemed to be seeing aU the visitors that I was tell- 
ing her about. When I finished speaking, Mrs. Foster 
said to me, very earnestly, — 

" You must not see these things, Mr. Percyfield, 
you really must not ; it is not good for you. You are 
abnormally sensitive. I am afraid you are working 
too hard. You ought to take more exercise. Really, 
my friend, you must not see them." 

This fiction on the part of my friends that I must 
be working too hard started when I was a youngster, 
and has followed me all through my life. Even my 
clear-sighted grandfather Percj^eld feU a victim to 
it. I am occupied all the time, of course, for it would 
be very stupid not to be, but in one sense I never do 
a stroke of work. My occupations are all of my own 
choosing, the things I want to do, and that is not 
work, it 's the most enlightened sort of play. Mrs. 
Foster's earnestness surprised me, and I said, — 

" Why not, Mrs. Foster ? They seem weU-bred peo- 
ple. I have nothing against them save that they 
waken me out of a sound sleep, and do not answer 
when they are spoken to. Who do you suppose they 
are, modern Trappists sworn to silence ? " 

107 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



" Hardly that," said Mrs. Foster. " You will perhaps 
not agree with me, but they are the astral bodies of peo- 
ple who have lived in this old house before you came to 
it. You ought not to see them. It is only when you are 
in a hypersensitive state that you have the power." 

'' It must have been a boarding-house, then," said 
Charlotte, " for John sees such a crew of them." 

I laughed softly, but I did not express my full in- 
credulity, thinking that it would hardly be polite. I 
do not myself at all believe in these astral bodies of 
Mrs. Foster. 

My mode of coming to the rescue was a conspicu- 
ous failure, for both Dr. Granger and Mrs. Foster re- 
mained until midnight. When they left, Mrs. Foster 
said to me with the same earnestness, " Remember, 
you are not going to see any one to-night ; " and I 
answered gayly, " You must keep them off, then." 

And sure enough, I had no visitors that night, 
or, indeed, for about two weeks after. The follow- 
ing day I had a note from Mrs. Foster, written in 
the same earnest spirit, and urging me not to see 
the shadow people, — quite as if I had elected to be 
wakened every night. In truth, I was very glad to 
be rid of them. The next time I saw Mrs. Foster I 
told her they had gone, and asked what she had done 
to frighten them, and whether, like David, she played 
the harp when the cloud pressed heavily on Saul. You 
remember that Mr. Browning has told the story very 
beautifully in his poem of Saul. But Mrs. Foster 
only laughed. 

108 



ILLUSIONS 



However, either the harp-playing ceased, or it grew 
to be no longer effective. The shadow people never 
came back in such full force as they did on South 
Broad Street, and now they have the decency to 
come one or at most two at a time, but they have 
never ceased to come, not even, as I have been telling 
you, in this delightful old Chateau on the shore of 
Leman. 

The duke of Savoy, in his plaid or in his velvet, is 
a very distinct figure, though no more so than the 
humble fellow who once investigated me in a sleeping- 
car out in the Rocky Mountains. I was going from 
Colorado Springs to Salt Lake City. The train was 
crowded. I could get no berth in the regular sleeper, 
and indeed hardly a seat in the ordinary coach. Some 
wedding-joumeyers whom I had seen at the Springs 
advised me, since I could not very well stop off at 
Glen wood, to take the " tourist " sleeper that is put on 
at LeadviUe. I had never heard of a tourist sleeper, 
and being a Philadelphian, I had our traditional preju- 
dice against the unknown. This feeling is very strong 
at home. Some of my fellow townsmen do not even 
want to die. So I merely said that I would look at the 
tourist sleeper. I found a very shabby car, with cane 
seats and bare floor, and " second-class " written very 
large all over it. It was not the sort of an affair that 
the Percyfields commonly travel in. I stuck up my 
nose and said I 'd have none of it. But when night 
came on, the old men in my car were taking off their 
shoes, and the chicken bones gathered on the floor, 

109 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



and the babies began cind continued to howl, poor 
little souls, and altogether things became pretty bad. 
I was less high and mighty than I had been at Lead- 
ville, and went back to the tourist sleeper to say that 
I would graciously take a berth. By that time all 
the lower berths were taken, which served me quite 
right, and I was obliged, in a very humble frame of 
mind indeed, to climb into an upper berth. I must 
say, parenthetically, that I found it very clean and 
comfortable. I went to sleep at once, for all day long I 
had been staring at the Royal Gorge and other bits of 
remarkable scenery, and I was tired. But very soon 
I was wakened by finding a rough -looking fellow bend- 
ing over me. He seemed to be standing on the edge 
of the lower berth, and had parted the curtains so that 
the upper part of his body was literally in my berth. 
His hands rested on the edge of the wooden side-piece. 
He wore a checked shirt made of coarse cotton cloth ; 
they call it hickory in the South. The sleeves were 
rolled up to the elbows, disclosing hairy, freckled arms. 
The shirt was open at the throat, showing more hair and 
freckles. The man himself was good-natured enough 
looking. He had a large, rough face, with sandy 
beard and reddish hair. I took him to be a miner, or 
perhaps merely a prospector. In spite of his good 
nature, however, his intrusion seemed to me a piece 
of very great impertinence. I reached instinctively 
for my coat to see that my wallet was still safe. I 
had put the coat between me and the back of the 
bunk. Then I turned to demand an explanation, — 

110 



ILLUSIONS 



the curtains were fastened on the inside and fell in 
straight folds : there was no one there. 

I confess that this mining person falls in very cred- 
itably with Mrs. Foster's theory. He was just such a 
looking feUow as had probably slept in that bunk of 
mine in the tourist sleeper not many nights before. 
Any image stamping itself on the entangled ether 
would be much more likely to be a prospector than a 
Percyfield. 

I have myself no very satisfactory theory about 
these illusions, except to believe, of course, that they 
have existence only in my own head. I fancy other 
people have them too, though I never happen to have 
met any one with such a large circle of dumb admirers. 
Charlotte says they are a stupid lot never to tell me 
anything, and half beheves, I think, that she could 
manage them to more purpose. I should be very glad 
to give her the chance, but apparently the shadow 
people have no mind to be passed around. 

I think the whole thing is due to a visualizing type 
of mind. When one sees the world in a series of vivid 
pictures, a gayly colored panorama, it is easily think- 
able that on wakening suddenly from sleep and before 
the faculties are well in hand, there should be this 
projecting of images on the screen of the physically 
seen. It is odd, however, that these illusions should 
waken me out of sound sleep by that sense of personal 
intrusion, and odd, too, that they should always obey 
gravitation and optics ; that is, that they should always 
stand on the floor, and should always respect the fur- 
Ill 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



niture so scrupulously. In the matter of costume, 
they follow the fashion of the country. In Rome, I 
see peasant women and their children in gay Roman 
scarfs ; in Colorado, a prospector ; in Switzerland, a 
gentleman in sober doublet. But in spite of these 
minor difficulties, I never for a moment doubt the sub- 
jective character of my visitors. 

One experience, however, I did have, that I have 
never been able to explain, and that remains to this 
day a mystery. I was sitting one evening in front of 
the table in my study at Uplands. It was the large 
garret room that I have already mentioned. I had been 
reading all the latter part of the evening and had 
been tremendously interested in the content of my 
book. I was not, I think, at all sleepy. I stopped 
my reading chiefly because I heard the hall clock 
downstairs strike twelve, and I knew that I ought to 
be in bed. I shut the book, and sat for a moment in 
my large armchair, with my hands up to my head. 
Quite without warning or preface of any kind, I sud- 
denly found myself, that is, my thinking self, entirely 
outside of my body and entirely detached from it save 
by a slender bond on the left side. I saw my body 
sitting there in the armchair, complete from head to 
foot, sharp and distinct, save the slight obscureness 
on the left side. And then I saw around the body, 
projecting from it six or eight inches, I should say, a 
slightly Imninous gray cloud. It had the enlarged 
form of the body and enveloped it completely. I was 
;;5^tly astonished at what I saw, and particularly at 

112 



ILLUSIONS 



the luminous gray cloud. I cried out, — but whether 
aloud or to myself, I know not, — '' It is the Soul." I 
let my hands drop into my lap ; I was sitting in the 
armchair before my study table. 

The United Kingdom are collectively interested in 
these illusions and ask repeatedly if the duke has 
made another visit. They care more for him than 
they do for my Colorado prospector. Mademoiselle 
de Candolle is interested in quite a different way. 
She looks at me kindly and says in her low, gentle 
voice, " Monsieur, the veil between you and the un- 
seen world is slight. You have a peculiar organiza- 
tion, very sensitive. You must guard it." 

But for myself, I do not know about these things. 



113 



CHAPTER V 

IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 

It is the twelfth of December, the fete of the Es- 
calade, when the Genevois celebrate the repulse of the 
Savoyards some three hundred years ago. By a curi- 
ous irony of fate, the present Savoyards fetch down 
fat turkeys from Haute-Savoie, and sell them to their 
ancient enemies, and present richer neighbors, the 
Genevois. It is a little hard to have to supply the 
feast with which to make merry over your own discom- 
fiture. 

We are much too patriotic at the Chateau to let the 
day pass unobserved. We celebrate it in our own 
way. Instead of masks and discordant trumpets, we 
dress for dinner and decorate the Chateau with the 
last of our roses and chrysanthemums. We twine 
ivy and hang mistletoe over the fireplace. Where we 
can, we put a touch of red, the flaming berries of the 
mountain ash, and great branches of cardinal maj^le 
leaves. The Chateau is a gay sight, this fete of the 
Escalade. Mademoiselle de Candolle wears her pur- 
ple velvet waist with the ruby-red jewel of her great- 
grandmothers. The United Kingdom is in fuU dress : 
Ireland in an ancient mauve-colored silk, with her 
triple string of pearls ; England majestic in black 

114 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



velvet and old lace ; Scotland problematical in a 
white gown with gold threads. I have put on my best 
dress suit, and in my buttonhole display a touch of 
home in the crimson button of my dear university. 
We have a double allowance of candles on the dinner 
table, and on the side tables there are several lamps 
burning. It is a pretty sight. 

We are aU of us in hohday mood, and drink our 
toasts in high spirits, first to the Chatelaine and to the 
eternal liberty of her brave Switzerland, and then to 
the United Kingdom and to their beloved sovereign. 
Finally it is my turn, and England, with a truly 
charming graciousness, begs that I wiU frame the toast 
myself, as they would wish me what I should most 
wish for myself. I spring to my feet, flushed with 
something better than wine, and holding my glass on 
high, cry out, — 

" To the Great Republic ! May she realize demo- 
cracy and lead in the federation of the nations." 

The ladies rise, too, and drink my toast in all sin- 
cerity, these old aristocrats, but it is because they are 
fond of me rather than of democracy. The Chatelaine 
alone understands. 

Our glasses are large and there is still some good 
red wine in the bottom of them. I ask a final toast, 
— " To those we love." We drink in silence, each 
thinking his own thoughts, I of Charlotte and of 
Margaret, the elder women of memories, while Scotland 
looks at me and thinks of heaven knows what bare- 
legged laird. 

115 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



After dinner we go into the drawing-room, carrying 
the lamps and the vases of flowers with us. We distribute 
them advantageously about the room. Then the heavy 
red curtains are drawn in front of the great windows 
and we look as cosy as you please. I can't help wish- 
ing that Charlotte were here to see it. The Chatelaine 
has a glorious fire made on the hearth, not a little 
tuppenny blaze of dried leaves, and twigs as thick as 
a slate pencil, but a genuine fire of great oak logs 
that sends the flames rushing and roaring up the chim- 
ney the way they do at Uplands. The drawing-room 
is absolutely hot ; I think it must be at least sixty-five 
degrees Fahrenheit. It is only in the most distant 
corners that you can see your breath. 

We make a wide circle around the chimney-place, 
and as master of ceremonies I am allowed to dispose 
the ladies in chairs that will go well with the color of 
their gowns. I put Ireland into a pale blue chair 
with spindhng French legs. It just suits her, for I 
always think of her as pale blue. England goes into 
a gorgeous highbacked chair, covered with bright red 
stuff that matches her ruddy cheeks. The seat is high 
and I insist on adding a footstool. She looks majestic, 
the very picture of triumphant imperialism. It needs 
only a lot of squirming, miserable folk under the chair 
to make the picture complete, but this part of my 
thought I keep to myself. Scotland goes into the 
most non-committal chair I can find, one of those that 
have quite lost their original color and pattern, for I 
cannot make Scotland out at all. I have no such 

116 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



trouble with the Chatelaine. I fetch her a solid arm- 
chair done in a warm, rich green. She fits it perfectly. 
Then I give a final touch to the lamps, and join the 
circle myself, with a sigh of large content. 

But it seems that my duties are far from being over. 
England from her height calls over to me, " Do tell 
us some of your American anecdotes, Mr. Percyfield, 
one of those coincidences, like the story of Mrs. Lewis's 
samovar. We must have some bright talk, must n't 
we, to match the gay picture you have made of us." 

A spirit of mischief seizes me, and I answer, '' Very 
well, Madame, your word is law. You have proba- 
bly heard of my distinguished fellow townsman, Mr. 
George Washington Childs, — yes, the one who gave 
the fountain or the window or something or other to 
Stratford-on-Avon. Well, when he was a little boy, 
he lived in Baltimore. He was quite poor, I believe, 
and had to sell newspapers for a living. One day, he 
received a curious looking penny for one of his papers. 
It was so curious that he put a little private mark on 
it before he spent it for a hot bun, wondering whether 
it would ever come back to him. Well, years after- 
wards when he had moved to Philadelphia and grown 
very rich, he had occasion one day to go over to 
Camden on the ferryboat. The fare is tliree cents, 
and Mr. Childs gave the gatekeeper a nickel, — a 
five-cent piece, you know — and got back two cents in 
change. Mr. Childs looked carefully at the pennies, 
and what do you think " — 

'' Well," says England, '* I think your friends have 
117 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



more queer things happening to them than any peo- 
ple I know." 

"Yes, it was queer," I answer demurely, ''but 
neither penny was the marked one." 

" You 're a dreadful man, Mr. Percyfield," says 
England, trying to look severe, " to take in a couple 
of old women that way," — no one ever thinks of the 
Chatelaine as old. " I don't like such nonsense. Tell 
us a good story, something true." 

So I begin again, assuring England that this time 
the story shall be true. 

" Honor bright ? " says England. 

" Honor bright ! " I answer, my hand on my 
heart ; and then I proceed : " I was once walking 
through the Yellowstone Park. It was the last day 
of my walk. I left the regular stage road at the 
Grand Canon Hotel, at the Falls of the Yellowstone, 
you know, and took the trail around Mt. Washburn, 
to Yancey's Camp. It was a matter of about twenty- 
four miles, and I allowed the whole day for it. After 
I got clear of the hotel, I did not see a soul until I 
reached Yancey's at five o'clock that afternoon." 

" And were n't you afraid ? " asks England. 

"Of what?" I ask, looking as much surprised as 
a dragoon does when you ask him, perchance, if he 
minds being shot. 

" Oh, I don't know. Of Indians, perhaps, or of 
robbers." 

" Not at all," I answer ; " Indians are very scarce 
in America. They have been mostly picked up for 

118 



IN THE DRAWING-EOOM 



wild west shows and museums. In fact, they are al- 
most as rare as a workingman at a university exten- 
sion lecture. And as for robbers, they could never 
afford such a lonely place. I think I was the only 
man who crossed the trail that year." 

" It sounds dreadfully lonely," says England, while 
Ireland draws her chair perceptibly nearer to the fire. 

" It did not seem lonely to me," I answer, enthu- 
siastically ; '^ I never had such a day. It gives me a 
thrill even to think of it. I was absolutely alone with 
Nature. It was a red-letter day." 

England is still doubtful, and asks nervously, " Did 
you have a pistol ? Were there no wild animals to 
fear, no panthers or bears or anything of that sort ? " 

" No, Madame, I never carry a pistol," I answer, 
" and beyond being a little watchful, I had no fear of 
the animals. The grizzlies were all up on the ridges 
trying to keep cool, and I didn't see one. A beauti- 
ful silver-haired fox crossed my path, and I saw a 
couple of deer in the distance, but these, with a fret- 
ful porcupine, were the only things stirring. But to go 
on with my story. After I got several miles out from 
the hotel, the trail became rather indistinct and scat- 
tered, and I began to think that I had been careless 
not to have brought my compass along. It was in my 
trunk at Cinnabar. But the compass was Swiss, and 
rather heavy" — it was the one I had shown to Fri- 
dolin — " so I left it behind. A few minutes later I 
chanced to look down on the trail and there was a lit- 
tle round object shining in the sun. I stooped and 

119 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



picked It up. It was a compass. Evidently it had 
fallen from some one's watch chain, for it showed the 
mark of where a ring had once been attached to it. 
When I got to Yancey's I made inquiries and found 
that a company of cavalry officers had gone over the 
trail on horseback the preceding summer. The com- 
pass had been there waiting for me nearly a year." 

" How providential ! " exclaims Ireland. 

" What did your friends say ? " asks England. 
" They must think you lead a charmed life." 

" One man in Philadelphia, to whom I told the 
story, looked at me and said, ' Percyfield, I 'm a 
pretty good liar myself.' " 

Ireland and the Chatelaine laugh softly, and Scot- 
land fairly snickers ; but England, whose sense of 
humor is still rudimentary, says gravely, " How very 
rude. I hope you showed him the compass." 

" Unfortunately, Madame, that was impossible. It 
was stolen from me the following evening." 

" Stolen ? " cry the four ladies in concert, and even 
the apathetic Scotland is curious to know how that 
came to be. 

It is a holiday and I might as well tell them the 
story. It is one of those queer experiences that sel- 
dom come to a man in our day, and having come, 
make him feel that he wants to share it with others, 
— not egotistically, I think, for I could in no sense be 
called the hero of the tale, but simply to carry out the 
Golden Rule, and tell a good story to others as you 
would like them to tell one to you. 

120 



IN THE DRAWING-EOOM 



The Chatelaine has another generous log put on the 
fire ; the ladies settle themselves to listen, and I be- 
gin. But England must first ask if it is surely a true 
story, and I assure her, honor bright, that it is. Then 
Scotland wants to know if it 's pathetic, and if she had 
better take out her mouchoir. I answer wickedly that 
it would be to a Scotsman, for I lost two hundred and 
fifty francs by the adventure. But Scotland com- 
pletely ignores the thrust, and says, the way she inva- 
riably does when any sum of money is mentioned, 
"Two hundred and fifty francs, that would be a bit 
over ten pounds, would n't it ? " 

" We must usually pay for our experience, must n't 
we?" adds England, by way of comfort. I used to 
think that these little interrogations on the end of so 
many of England's sentences required an answer, but 
I notice that her countrywomen never attend to this 
conversational fringe, and I have fallen into their way 
of ignoring it. Then England says, " But please go 
on, Mr. Percyfield," evidently forgetting that it was 
she who headed me off in the first place. So I begin 
again. 

" I spent that night at Yancey's Camp " — 

" And did you have no adventures there ? " inter- 
rupts Scotland, with such a fine touch of irony in her 
voice that it escapes all but myself. 

" None to speak of," I reply, imperturbably, " ex- 
cept that the log house was a little noisy. There were 
some drunken soldiers there, but they were more mi- 
kind to themselves than to me." — Charlotte says that 

121 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



these little moral remarks of mine are not calculated 
to help on the cause, but Miss Polyhymnia holds that 
it makes life more picturesque to have it " annotated." 
— "I thought at first that I was going to have a little 
trouble, but I got through the night all right. The 
next morning I walked to the Mammoth Springs 
Hotel and caught the stage for Cinnabar. There I 
took the railroad up to Livingston, and at seven 
o'clock that evening I boarded the eastbound express. 
It was called an express, but it reminded me of what 
Mark Twain said about our Swiss trains. He was 
walking, and got tired, so he took the train, thereby 
losing considerable time. The overland express bowled 
along at the rate of at least twenty miles an hour. But 
it was very comfortable, quite like a good hotel on 
wheels. I had dinner in the dining-car, and got a 
good lower berth in the sleeper. I was rather tired, 
for you see I had walked over one hundred and sixty 
miles in the preceding five days." 

" I don't wonder you are thin," says England. 

" Slender, if you please, Madame," I suggest, by 
way of correction, for I like to be called slender, but not 
thin. England accepts the amendment, and I go on. 
" I went to bed shortly after dinner, but I did not go 
to sleep. I lay there thinking how very comfortable 
I was. It must have been about nine o'clock when 
the train came to a sudden stop. I lifted my window 
shade and looked out to see what was the matter. It 
was bright moonlight, but we were in a low cut, and I 
could see nothing of the surrounding country, or any 

122 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



cause for our stopping. A nervous woman in the sec- 
tion ahead of mine called out, ' My God, we 're being 
held up,' but I didn't for a moment believe her. I 
thought to myself, 'You poor, nervous thing, you 
ought not to travel in the West.' Then I pulled down 
my window shade and thought I would go to sleep. 
But it turned out that the nervous woman was right, 
and we were being ' held up.' In a moment I heard a 
number of pistol shots, and the colored porter cried 
out to us, ' You 'd better all lie mighty still. If you 
git up, you may git shot ! ' I learned afterwards that 
the porter had been in four hold-ups, three in one 
year, and had learned to take them calmly. It was 
my own first experience. I stopped in my berth, as 
you English would say, but the nervous woman stuck 
her head out of the window and screamed. It was a 
silly thing to do and came near to costing us dear. 
The highwaymen were hammering away at the express 
car in the front of the train, and the filling we heard 
was the skirmish between them and the plucky express 
agent. But one of them, hearing the scream, took his 
rifle and deliberately fired at the nervous woman's 
window." — 

" How dreadful," cries the Chatelaine. 

" Did it kill her ? " asks the practical Scotland. 

'' No, it did n't kiU her, but it came near to killing 
some one else. You see the outlaw was so far front 
that the train was greatly foreshortened, and the bul- 
let missed the nervous woman's window entirely. It 
passed through one corner of my own section, and 

123 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



buried itself in the woodwork just two inches above 
the head of the man in the section back of me. He 
dug the bullet out afterwards and took it home with 
him as a memento of western travel." 

"Were n't you frightened?" asks Scotland, and 
this time without any irony. 

" Thoroughly frightened," I answer, quite una- 
bashed. " I had never been under fire before, and 
it is not a pleasant sensation. You see there is no 
chance for action. If you lie still you may get shot, 
and if you get up you may get shot. It is stupid in 
either case." 

" Mon Dieu, what a terrible moment ! " says the 
Chatelaine ; " and what did you think of ? " 

" Well, it was curious, but you see I was very full 
of my walk, and my first thought was that I hoped I 
should not be shot in the leg and get lamed, so that I 
could not walk any more." 

" And then ? " asks England, solemnly. 

" Afterwards, I remember hoping that if I got shot 
at all it would kill me outright, and not give me a 
nasty wound." 

"And aren't you afraid to die?" continues Eng- 
land in the same solemn way. Apparently she thinks 
that we radicals are great sinners, all of us, and must 
be covertly apprehensive of our end. 

" No, Madame," I answer, simply and honestly, " I 
am not afraid to die. I am a democrat, and believe 
in justice, here and later, not crowns for some and hard 
knocks for the rest, but God's love and truth for all." 

124 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



England looks at me quizzically, and for a moment 
there is silence. It is Scotland who breaks it to ask 
that the story may go on. 

" Well," I continue, " there was more firing in the 
front, and the outlaws finally overcame the express 
agent. But they could not blow open the safe, and so 
they decided to go through the train. The word was 
passed along from car to car, and so we had some time 
to get ready for them. I was quite willing that they 
should have my money provided they would leave me 
my legs and my watch. The watch had belonged to 
my grandfather Percyfield, and I made up my mind 
that come what would, I simply could not lose it." 

'* What did you do with it ? " asks the Chatelaine, 
interested, like all the Genevois, in watches. 

" I put it under the mattress. I hid some of my 
money, too, but afterwards I put aU the money back in 
my wallet and in my pockets, for I was afraid that the 
outlaws might tear out the berth in case they did not 
find enough money to satisfy them." 

" How could you lie there and wait ? What did 
you do with yourself ? " bursts in England. 

" Well, for one thing, I almost went to sleep. 
There was nothing else to do after I had hidden my 
watch." 

" You almost went to sleep ! " cries England in the 
upper register of her voice. " Mr. Percyfield, I don't 
believe you." 

" I did, though. I almost went to sleep. You see 
it took the outlaws some time to go through the other 

125 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



cars, and I had been so mucli in the open air the past 
few days that by that time I was growing very sleepy. 
But when the outlaws did finally reach our car, I was 
anything but sleepy. My heart thumped the way it 
did when I climbed Pike's Peak. Furthermore, they 
made a great racket. I never heard such swearing, 
not even in St. Louis. You could smell sulphur. They 
made the porter light every single lamp until the car 
was one blaze of light. Then they went down the 
aisle, the three of them, one on guard, one dealing 
with the passengers, and one carrying a sack for the 
receipt of such vanities as pocket-books, loose change, 
watches, and jewelry. I was still in bed, and my cur- 
tains were down, so I could only judge of what was 
happening by the noise. I heard the constant com- 
mand, ' Dig up,' an expression I had never heard be- 
fore, but which I could readily guess meant to ' shell 
out,' and this, you know, means to ' hand over.' " 

" You have such droll expressions in America," in- 
terrupts Ireland. 

" However, by some accident, the outlaws passed 
my section without investigating it, and I was begin- 
ning to count myself a very lucky man, for I heard 
one of them say, ' Well, fellows, let 's be off.' As he 
turned, his rifle caught in my curtain, and there was 
I. He dashed the curtains aside and sat down on the 
edge of the berth with the pleasant remark, ' Here 's a 
man we have n't done yet.' " 

" I do not see how you stood it," says the gentle Ire- 
land ; " I should have quite died of fright." 

126 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



" I had no choice in the matter," I reply ; '' the 
inevitable makes us all heroes. And the situation, 
though not exactly what you would voluntarily elect, 
was far from being uninteresting. It was quite like a 
scene out of a dime novel. There was I, a mild- 
mannered tourist, flat in bed, and there was the heavy 
villain sitting on the foot of the bed without so much 
as ' by your leave.' And his appearance added to the 
picturesqueness of the affair. He had on a rough 
mask made of burlap, the coarse stuff they use for 
potato sacks. It came down to his shoulders, and 
covered his head and face entirely. There were only 
two little holes for his eyes. He was a regular walk- 
ing arsenal. Besides the rifle, he had two revolvers 
and a bowie knife. He could hardly have carried 
any more weapons. But do you know, on the whole, 
I think he was more nervous than I, for I had the 
more powerful weapon. I had society at my back. 
It might be worsted for the moment, but in the end it 
is always victorious, while he with his petty firearms 
was standing out against society. He was very busi- 
ness-like. He went through all my pockets, and made 
me hand over the wallet from under my piUow. When 
he came to my vest pocket he took the compass along 
^th the small coins. I did not think of it at the 
time or I should have asked him to leave that. As it 
was, my heart was quite in my mouth, for I remem- 
bered at the last moment that my watch-key was in 
that pocket, and I expected to hear him thunder out, 
* Where is your watch ? ' I should have been quite 

127 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



willing to lie to him about it, but not being in practice, 
the trouble was to do it successfully. Fortunately I 
was not put to the test, for his great horny finger 
scooped out everything else, and left the key safely 
tucked away in one corner of the pocket. If he had 
been listening, he could have heard my sigh of relief. 
As I saw my wallet vanishing, I did remember that it 
had my ticket to Chicago in it. I had heard great 
tales of the politeness of these fellows, so I said to the 
one in front of me, ' You have my ticket to Chicago, 
and I should like to have that back, if you please.' " 

" Really, Mr. Percyfield," breaks in England, '' you 
did n't say that to a robber, did you ? " 

" Yes, I did, and what is more, he gave it back 
to me. He opened the wallet, — it 's this one I am 
carrying now, — took out the bank notes and threw 
them into the sack of worldly vanities, closed the 
wallet, and handed it back to me most politely, and 
I said, ' Thank you,' amused even then at this ex- 
change of courtesies with a gentleman of the road. I 
have been sorry ever since that I did not talk with 
him, and find out his point of view about the whole 
affair. It was an unusual opportunity, and I should 
never have missed it. Yes, he had a point of view, 
1 am sure of that. I heard afterwards that one of 
the outlaws refused to rob a train hand, remarking, 
' That 's all right. You work for your money.' Evi- 
dently they thought that the rest of us did not. It 
was a great mistake, not talking to him. Well, I was 
the last man ' done ' on the whole train. Then the 

128 



IN THE DRAWING-KOOM 



robbers took themselves off, but not without giving us 
a parting salute. As soon as they got on the embank- 
ment they sent a volley of shots at our car. I don't 
think they meant to hurt any of us. I think they 
only meant to frighten us and discourage pursuit. But 
the noise was something dreadful. The bullets pattered 
around on the roof of the car, smashing the ventila- 
tors and sending the fragments of glass down into 
the aisle. It did seem for a moment as if the day of 
judgment had come. But the train was soon in motion 
again, and the hold-up was over. Then there was the 
noise of many voices. Everybody was talking to 
everybody else and wondering how it all happened, and 
comparing experiences. The nervous woman was re- 
lating her woes in high soprano. I stuck my head 
out of the curtains. Across the aisle, a rough-looking 
Montana man had his head sticking out in much the 
same fashion — reminding me for all the world of 
the way we children used to play Bluebeard's wives, 
the winter we lived in New Orleans. You know how 
frowsy and funny people look after they have been in 
bed a haK an hour and got their hair all mussed up. 
Montana looked as if he had been in bed a week, but 
he proved to be a rough diamond. It was not a time 
to wait for introductions. As soon as he saw my 
head appear, he said in a hearty way, ' Well, pardner, 
how did you fare ? ' I laughed and answered, ' Very 
badly ; they took all I had.' ' Pshaw ; I wish I 'd 
known,' said Montana, ' I would have told you how 
to manage. How much did you lose ? ' ' About fifty 

129 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



dollars,' said I. ' Pshaw ; you did n't ? ' ' Yes, I did,' 
said I ; and then I went on to tell Montana that 1 had 
been more anxious to save my watch and my seven- 
league boots than my money. He had himself only 
four dollars and eighty-four cents, but he took my loss 
more to heart than I did. He disappeared back of his 
curtains, and I thought he was disgusted with me for 
being such a tenderfoot as to lose everything. In a 
moment, however, a great rough hand came stealing 
across the aisle. It was Montana's. Between the 
thumb and forefinger were two silver dollars, cart- 
wheels we call them in America. ' Here,' said he, 
abruptly, ' take that.' Remember, please, that this 
was nearly half of his own slender purse, and that I 
had never seen him before in my whole life. I was tre- 
mendously touched. I thanked Montana as best I could, 
telling him that this goodness of his quite redeemed 
the outrage of the hold-up, and that I would gladly 
accept the money if he would let me return it later. 

" ' No,' said he, with an oath, which I think the re- 
cording angel took no account of, ' a man in your fix, 
I want to give it to him.' 

" I like to tell this part of the story, for it shows the 
heroic side of Western life." 

" What did you do ? " asks the practical Scotland, 
always alert when any money transactions are men- 
tioned. " Two dollars. That would be eight shillings, 
wouldn't it?" 

" I took the money, put it under my pillow, and 
went to sleep." 

130 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



" How could you ? " says Ireland. 

"It would have hurt Montana's feelings, if I had not 
taken the money," I reply, somewhat surprised at her 
way of looking at it, for the Percyfields have ever been 
very punctilious in money matters. 

" I did n't mean that," Ireland hastens to explain ; 
" I mean how coidd you go to sleep? " 

" There was nothing else to do. Lightning seldom 
strikes the same tree twice. There was little danger 
of a second hold-up." 

" I believe, Mr. Percyfield, that you have no nerves 
whatever," is England's comment. 

'' Indeed I have, as you would soon see, if I drank 
your EngUsh tea of an afternoon as strong as you 
would like to give it to me. I should soon be a very 
tottery, trembly old gentleman." 

England laughs. She has a little contempt, you 
know, for my weak tea. Then she adds, " Did you 
hear how the brigands stopped the train ? " 

I had never thought of the outlaws as " brigands," 
and it rather shocked me to think that we had such 
an article in America. I was slow in answering. 
" Oh yes, the three men got on the front platform of 
the baggage car at a little station called Reedy Point, 
and after the train had pulled out some distance, they 
adjusted their masks, stood up, and aimed their three 
rifles at the head of the engineer. Then they called 
his attention to the fact and told him to stop when he 
saw a lantern. He very naturally did so, for it was 
Hobson's choice." 

131 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



'' Was there no resistance ? " asks the Chatelaine. 
It is the night of the Escalade, and the Genevois fight- 
ing blood is up. 

" Hardly any. The porter in the sleeper back of 
ours did fire at the robbers, but got such a volley back 
that the next day his car looked as if it had been 
through a battle. I never understood before how a 
few men could hold up a whole trainful of people, but 
you see you are at a great disadvantage. You have 
to deal with absolutely desperate men, genuine des- 
peradoes, and you never know how many confederates 
they have outside. Furthermore, you are in a brightly 
lighted car while they are under cover of the shadows. 
Montana told me afterward that he had a loaded pistol 
under his pillow and that at one moment all three 
men had their backs to him. ' But I did n't fire,' 
he added, ' for I did n't know what women and chil- 
dren I might have hit back of them curtains, and then 
if I had killed all three of 'em, and they had had 
enough pardners outside, them fellows would have 
come Into this here car and done every man, woman, 
and child of us, just out of pure revenge.' I respected 
his temperance. The robbers understood the situation, 
too. They were playing a losing game in life and 
were willing to risk all in any mad adventure. But 
with the rest of us it was different. We were on the 
winning side. Life was too precious a gift to be 
thrown away for a few dollars. The robbers were 
careful not to offer us any personal insult or injury. 
Had they done that, it would have roused the tiger in 

132 



IN THE DRATVIXG-ROOM 



the gentlest of us, and the result would have been too 
terrible to tell about. But there was another side to 
it, at once hiunorous and pathetic. One little woman 
in another sleeper was so frightened that she hid 
under her berth and so lost nothing. It happened to 
be a new sleeper, and the berth was fortunately rather 
high, so that a small person could just manage to 
squeeze under it. Then there was an old lady in my 
own sleeper who was going only a short distance and 
had but twelve dollars with her. When the outlaw 
pointed his revolver at her head and told her roughly 
to ' Dig up,' she handed the money to him, for, as she 
told me afterwards, she thought that if she had to die, 
she would rather not die with a lie in her throat." 

" Did none of the other passengers manage to 
save their money?" asks the canny Scotland. 

" Yes, several of them had their wits about them. 
One man got up and wandered about the car, and 
when ordered to hand over his money, said with gTeat 
show of indignation, ' How often can you do a fellow, 
anyway? You 've got all I had.' In reality he had 
not lost a penny." 

"How splendid! " says Scotland, enthusiastically, and 
Ireland murmurs gently, " It was too shocking that he 
had to teU such a lie about it." 

England looks at me quizzically. " Would you 
have lied for money, Mr. Percyfield ? " she asks. 

" Well, it was curious," I answer, " but just a 
couple of days before the- hold-up, I had been going 
over the whole question in my own mind. I hate a 

133 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



lie, as much as my grandfather Percyfield did before 
me, with a blind, unreasoning hatred. And I was 
asking myself what the theoretical grounds for truth- 
telling were, and especially whether a man is ever 
justified in lying. The question was brought home to 
me, you see, because I met so many lies in the Yellow- 
stone Park, regular whoppers, as we used to say when 
we were children." 

'' How was that? " asks the Chatelaine, who takes, 
you know, a very keen interest in American affairs. 

" It was chiefly about the difficulties and the dis- 
tances. They did not want me to walk." 

" Why not ? " says Scotland. " It is the cheapest 
way of traveling, is n't it ? " 

"That was precisely it. They preferred that I 
should take the stage, or else hire a couple of saddle 
horses and a guide." 

" I hope you did n't do it," says Scotland, indig- 
nantly. 

" No, indeed," I answer, " I walked the whole dis- 
tance. I much preferred it, and I suspected all along 
that they were telling me fairy stories. There is not 
the slightest reason why one shouldn't walk." 

"But what did you conclude about the lying?" 
demands England, with a touch of impatience. I 
think she rather likes to get at a radical's point of 
view in such matters. 

" I reasoned it out in this way. Savages and less 
evolved people generally, even fairly well-born children 
at a certain age, seem to lie naturally. It is a defense 

134 



IN THE DRAWING-EOOM 



of the weak. But a wider experience of life shows the 
immense superiority of truth-telling. The prejudice 
that all right-minded people have for strict truthfulness 
rests on this large experience. It does not, however, 
belong to the primal order of things, like gravitation 
and life and death. Much as we revere truth-telling, 
we must acknowledge that it is a purely social virtue, 
and grows out of social and individual experience. 
The race discovers that progTess depends upon re- 
porting things exactly as they are, and that daily life 
is more successful when people teU one another the 
exact truth. This, you know, is one of my strong ob- 
jections to trade, that traders do not tell each other 
the exact truth. Indeed, they sometimes tell each 
other pretty big falsehoods. Then in the second plaoe, 
a man owes it to himself to clarify his own vision, and 
to look at the world as unblinkingly as possible. He 
can do this only by the most rigorous, most unre- 
lenting truthfulness. It is this necessity that makes 
scientific men as a class — and especially geologists," 
I add laughingly — " such superior moral persons. 
The worst effect of lying is upon one's self. It takes 
away the very foundations of the intellectual life, for 
it robs one of discrimination and clear-sightedness. 
When one sees less clearly, one knows less clearly ; 
for knowledge, after aU, is merely a perception of re- 
lations." 

" In that case," says England triumphantly, " I 
don't see that you have anything to discuss in the way 
of exceptions." 

135 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



'' Yes, I have," I answer. " That 's what makes the 
question so interesting. The nearer we approach the 
gods, the more are we bound to make lower laws give 
way before higher laws, and the less may we stick to 
the letter of the law if the letter deny the spirit. The 
supreme and sole virtue of truth-telling is that it fur- 
thers social life and individual development. Should 
it cease to do that in any particular case, and range 
itself against the social good, it would become a grave 
fault in place of a high virtue. For example, no one 
would hesitate to deceive a pack of wolves and so 
save his life. Indeed, we should have no respect for 
a man who, rather than act a lie, allowed himself to 
be eaten up. The higher duty is to defend the social 
order. A moral man must tell the absolute truth to 
every man, woman, and child within the social order, 
but in those exceptional cases where he has to deal 
with persons outside the social order, he is under no 
such necessity. Indeed, it may be more moral to 
lie." 

'' Oh, really! " says Ireland, not a little shocked at 
this view ; and England asks, " But then, Mr. Percy- 
field, are there any people outside the social order? 
I thought you hot young democrats counted all men 
as brothers." 

I like her objection. In time I may even make a 
democrat out of her. I answer : " That was just the 
question I put to myself. Is the social order all-in- 
clusive, or are there outsiders ? " 

"Infidels, Jews, and heretics," suggests England^ 
136 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



and then I see that there is not a trace of democracy 
in her. 

" Not a bit of it," I answer warmly. " That would 
be most undemocratic. Mere opinion never takes a 
man out of the social order. He may be right, and 
you may be wrong. The only thing that can carry 
him beyond the pale is anti-social action of a destruc- 
tive sort." 

" But who shall judge what constitutes such action ? " 
asks Mademoiselle de Candolle. 

" Society must judge, and must run the risk of 
being wrong. Hence the immense importance of ele- 
vated social opinion. For myself, I recognize only 
three classes of outsiders, — first, an invading army ; 
secondly, crazy and sick people, pretty much the same 
thing, you know ; and thirdly, outlaws. It would 
seem to me more moral to lie to invaders and crazy 
people and criminals, if by lying one could deceive 
them, and so defeat their unsocial purposes." 

" Don't you think that 's a dangerous creed, Mr. 
Percyfield?" asks England. 

" Yes, Madame," I answer frankly, " I think it is 
extremely dangerous. But so is dynamite, so is all 
power. One must not be a coward moraUy any more 
than physically. And I find practically that a willing- 
ness to lie under exceptional circumstances makes one 
more punctilious in the normal affairs of life. The 
danger, too, is diminished by the fact that one does 
not ordinarily meet invaders or outlaws, or even peo- 
ple crazy enough to be called so." 

137 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



" You did not put your theory into practice," laughs 
the Chatelaine. 

" That is true. Force of habit, you know. I had 
never talked over the social wall before, and I told 
the strict truth, just as I should have done had we 
both been on the same side of the wall. It was n't 
the highest morality, though. It would have been 
much better if I had saved at least forty dollars and 
given it to you for the Christmas-tree up at the vil- 
lage." 

" I should never have allowed you to give so much," 
retorts the Chatelaine, who guards my pocket-book 
much more carefully than I do. " The twenty francs 
were quite enough. But tell us what you did the 
next day." 

"As nearly as I can remember I woke up." At 
this we all laugh, and it is quite as well, for we had 
been getting into rather deep waters for a holiday. 
" I found myself out in the wilds of Montana with 
just two silver dollars in my pocket, and an appetite 
as keen as a hunter's. It was a distinct sensation, not 
to have any money in your pocket, and I am rather 
glad to have had it. Later in the day I met a young 
fellow from Boston, Mr. Richard Forrester, whom I 
had seen at several of the hotels in the Park. He 
was in another sleeper, and had managed to save 
nearly a hundred doUars of his own money, so he 
kindly cashed a small cheque for me, and I gave the 
two silver dollars back to Montana. As Forrester 
was a stranger, I was foolish and would only let him 

138 



IN THE DKAWING-ROOM 



give me five dollars. I did not realize how very short 
a distance five dollars will go, especially if you pay 
seventy -five cents or a dollar for every meal. Conse- 
quently, in going from Minneapolis to Chicago, I had 
not enough money to pay for a berth in the sleeper, 
and had to sit up all night. Whom should I see in 
the front part of the car but the nervous woman I Of 
course, she had to tell her adventures to the people 
around her, and presently a hearty Westerner stood 
up and addressed us all, — 

" ' I say, fellows, this poor girl ' — she was at least 
fifty — ' was in the hold-up we read about yester- 
day, and lost everything she had. I propose to pass 
around the hat for her.' 

" When he came to me, the humor of the situation 
seemed too good to keep to myself, so I explained to 
him why I could give nothing. But I begged him not 
to say anything about it, for I had no desire to have 
them associate me in their thoughts with the nervous 
woman, or to have this kind-hearted Westerner pass 
around the hat for me. I think my grandfather Per- 
cyfield would have turned in his grave." 

"And did you never get your money back?" asks 
Scotland. 

" Not a penny of it. I put in a claim against the 
railroad company, for they had charged me a good 
round sum for fares, and I considered that they were 
bound to protect me, but they refused to consider the 
claim. Indeed, they treated me worse than the rob- 
bers did, for they even declined to supply me witli 

139 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



meals and a berth until I could reach Chicago and 
telegraph home for money. I should have fared ill 
had it not been for Montana and Mr. Forrester." 

"I hope they caught the robbers, did they not?" 
says England. 

" Yes, they caught them not long afterwards in a 
lonely cabin out in the mountains. There were five 
of them at that time, and they were evidently prepar- 
ing to hold up a train on the Great Northern. It was 
a regular siege. The sheriff and his party numbered 
thirteen men. One man was sent forward with a 
white flag of truce. The robbers responded by shoot- 
ing him dead. When I think of it, I am almost sorry 
that Montana did not kill the three of them right 
there in the train, and let come what would. You see, 
the robbers were quite lost to all sense of honor and 
decency. It fairly makes me shiver to think that I 
talked with one of them, and that he handled this 
wallet of mine. When the surrender finally came, 
four of the robbers were quite dead, and the other 
desperately wounded." 

" What a dreadful tale ! " says Ireland, drawing 
still nearer to the fire. " It sounds like the middle 
ages, quite." 

So I hasten to add, " I must conclude the tale with 
something pleasant, another coincidence — a true one, 
Madame. Afterwards when I went back to Harvard, 
President Eliot gave his customary reception to the 
new men and graduate students, and of course I went. 
1 had a number of pleasant encounters. I noticed a 

140 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



familiar face that I could not at all place. I noticed, 
too, that its owner regai-ded me intently from time to 
time. Presently he came up to me, and holding out 
his hand, said in a very friendly way, ' Is this not Mr. 
Percyfield, of Philadelphia ? ' I took his hand and 
smiled back, for I have ever had a fondness for hand- 
some, manly young fellows, but I had to confess that 
I could not recall his name. ' I was once on a train 
with you in Montana,' he began, but at once I inter- 
rupted him, ' And you are Mr. Richard Forrester, and 
you kindly cashed a cheque for me ! ' It seems that 
Mr. Forrester was an assistant at the university, and 
we often got together that winter and talked over our 
adventures." 

" WeU," declares England, '' I am prepared to hear 
that you met the Montana man, your rough diamond, 
crossing the ocean, and saw the nervous woman in 
Paris, and so on to the end." 

" Not a bit of it," I laughingly answer. " That is 
really the very end of the story. And I don't tell it 
any more at home, lest I shall get to be known as 
' That man who was held up.' " 

" And you 're too much of a democrat to care for 
titles, are n't you ? " 

" Not at all. I am very proud to be plain Mr. Percy- 
field, for it is an honest name that has come do^vn 
unspotted from that first Mr. Percyfield of whom we 
have any knowledge, the one who was esquire to Wil- 
liam the Conqueror, as you will see if you look over 
the list in Poor's Annals of London. The book was 

141 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



published in 1600. Perhaps you haven't a copy of 
it." The Annals happens to be one of the treasures 
in the library at Uplands, and it is a safe hazard that 
England never saw it. This bit of family news makes 
as deep an impression on England as if she had been 
a Pliiladelphian. As the gentle Ireland seems still a 
bit shaken by her glimpse into a rougher world, I go 
on in the lighter vein. " But I 'm always a trifle shy 
of any title beginning ' That man.' Once when I was 
walking in Carolina, I went for the day out to Caesar's 
Head. It 's a mountain just over the line, in South 
Carolina, and there 's a rambhng old summer hotel 
there. I had on my golf trousers — it was before 
they were at all common in the South. I did n't know 
the people at the hotel, and quite failed to get up any- 
thing of a conversation with the dull old gentleman 
who sat at the same table with me at dinner, and so I 
was one of the first to leave. I had got as far as the 
centre of the big dining-room, when a sweet little girl 
of four said in the high soprano of her years, ' Oh, 
mamma, there goes that man with the short pants on.' — 
Pardon the word, but the child said 'pants.' You can 
imagine the effect. The room was full and every one 
naturally looked at my embarrassed self. Quite as 
naturally every one smiled, some of them ^dibly. 
Ever since then I have been sensitive to any remarks 
beginning with those words." 

By this time it is quite the hour for retiring, even 
if it is the fete of the Escalade. I would only remark 
in passing that it is always well to tell your frontier 

142 



IN THE DRAWING-ROOM 



adventures after dark. For one thing the evening 
dress heightens the effect. 

When the ladies withdraw and leave me to my 
scales and five-finger exercises, they thank me very 
prettily for my tales, and England puts out her hand 
and adds graciously, ''Indeed, Mr. Percyfield, for all 
that you have said — I shall think it all over." 

The gentle Ireland declares, however, that she will 
hardly be able to sleep, and begs the Chatelaine to see 
that the front door is locked. 

" Which one, Countess ? " asks the Chatelaine, laugh- 
ing. 

You remember that we have six of them. 



143 



CHAPTER VI 

AN ETUDE OF BERTINl'S 

In one corner of the big drawing-room of the Cha- 
teau, there stands an old square piano. The ivory 
keys are yellow with time, and the fashion of the wood- 
work is no longer to be found in the market. But 
the tone is still sweet and true. I never went near 
the ancient instrument when there was any one in the 
room, but when I found myself there quite alone, I 
used sometimes to lift the lid furtively, and then, 
seeing that the doors were shut very tight, I would 
run over the scales, or produce an uneven patter of 
arpeggios. This was the extent of my musical ac- 
complishment. I have always taken it hard that I 
could make no music with either voice or hand, for in 
point of devotion to sweet sounds 1 exceed the most 
ardent. But my grandfather Percyfield, as I have 
said, would never allow me to be taught music. It is 
the only part of his educational plan that I have ever 
seriously questioned. If it be true that this omission 
was the price of good health, then I think tlfe,t my 
grandfather Percyfield was quite right. It is a heav- 
enly thing to have a sound, wholesome body, in which 
you can find no ache or pain, no organ out of order, 
nothing but the sensation of vigorous, delightful life. 

144 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINI'S 



It 's a bit of good fortune that we all ought to have, 
and I am always gi*ateful to my gi-andfather Percy- 
field that he secured it for me at any cost. But if 
he could only have given me this and music, too ! It 
is one of the minor tragedies of life not to have the 
music. 

It is a fortunate thing when one's taste runs with 
one's talent. Here am I, who can do a hundred and 
one things that I hardly care to do, and I can scarcely 
sing or play a note. But I must be patient. I have 
arranged with Fate that in my next incarnation, I am 
to sing and to play the violin. But the ivory keys of 
that old piano have a fascination about them. They 
suggested the thought that I might perhaps get in 
some of my drill work here and now. 

I set about finding a teacher, rather shyly and 
shamefacedly, I confess, for it did seem a trifle absurd 
for a man nearly thirty to be taking up the elements 
of music. I spoke to the Chatelaine about it, and 
with characteristic energy she began the search. She 
thought that possibly our neighbor at Mon Bijou would 
teach me — Mademoiselle Werner. 

The very next afternoon, when the Chatelaine and 
I were out walking, we had the good fortune to meet 
Mademoiselle Werner. She is a beautiful woman, I 
shoula say about forty-five, but I was never good at 
guessing age, for it interests me to know, not how long 
people have been at it, but rather what they have suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing. Mademoiselle Werner's hair 
is touched with gray, but her face is as fair and fresh 

145 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



as a child's. Her dress that afternoon was curiously 
youthful, being fairly gay with color, and yet it did 
not strike one as being unsuitable. It was only that 
she was in every way an unusual looking person. The 
Chatelaine was walking ahead of me at the time, as 
it happened to be a little muddy. There were some 
sedate, stupid-looking cows coming towards us. Made- 
moiselle Werner rushed over to the Chatelaine in a 
great state of alarm, fearful lest her red cloak should 
bring trouble. She clung to the Chatelaine as any 
small child might have done. In spite of her genuine 
terror, it was funny to see this great big woman in 
her flowing cloak and draperies clinging to so small a 
protector as Mademoiselle de CandoUe. When I came 
up. Mademoiselle Werner appealed to me without 
thought of an introduction, only it was in excellent 
English, with what seemed to me a very pretty ac- 
cent : — 

" Oh, I am so afraid of those cows ! Do you think 
they will hurt me ? I must not any more wear this 
red cloak when I go to walk." 

Swiss cows are not excitable, and they took no more 
notice of us than if we had been so many sparrows. 
But even after the cows had passed, and quite disap- 
peared around a curve in the road, it took some time 
to calm this very impetuous person. '' It must be 
that I am very nervous to-day," she said, by way of 
apology. 

When the Chatelaine mentioned the music, the 
cows were instantly forgotten, and Mademoiselle Wer- 

146 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINI'S 



ner threw herself into the subject with the same vehe- 
mence that she had shown before. "- Oh^ yes, I play ! 
play very much, — Chopin, Beethoven, Wagner, Grieg ; 
but how do you know that I could teach Mr. Percyfield 
to play ? I have never given lessons, moi, what made 
you think that I could do it ? Did it seem to you 
that I am a very methodical person ? " She laughed 
as heartily as a boy might if you proposed that he 
should do something quite ridiculous. Then she 
turned to me, and laid her hand on my arm. " I am a 
creature of impulse. Monsieur, and it is droll to me to 
think of teaching any one else to play." 

I was too much occupied in watching Mademoiselle 
Werner to say much myself. I had never seen any 
one who seemed so thoroughly a child, or to live so 
absolutely in the present moment. Yet she was per- 
fectly unaffected, and did not offend one's sense of 
suitableness. I was struck, too, with the composers she 
had mentioned, for they seemed so entirely appropriate 
to her curious, impulsive nature. I could not picture 
her as playing Mozart or Haydn. She regarded me 
attentively. Her large gray-blue eyes had almost clair- 
voyant power. Then she said, " Well, if you want it, 
Mr. Percyfield, I wiU give you a lesson. After that 
we will see. Come to-morrow afternoon, but not until 
five. I must paint while the light is good. One can 
play when the lamp is lighted." 

I had begun to share Mademoiselle Werner's doubts 
about her ability to teach me music, but I looked for- 
ward with interest to the lesson. At five o'clock the 

147 



JOHX PEECYFIELD 



next afternoon I stood before her door. It was a little 
country house, quite perfect of its kind, and deserved 
its name of " Mon Bijou." It was back a mile or so 
from the lake on the ridge beyond St. Maurice. The 
house was surrounded by a grove of beautiful, large 
oak trees, and on the edge of the wood was a little 
walled terrasse that gave a splendid view of the Voi- 
rons and Mont Blanc. When I arrived. Mademoiselle 
Werner had a visitor, and so bade me sit down on the 
terrasse and enjoy the view. Presently an old woman 
joined me. She looked curiously like Mademoiselle 
Werner, except that she was coarser and quite lacked 
Mademoiselle's charming spirituality. She spoke with 
the same directness, but in her it seemed like mipar- 
donable bluntness. In fact she gave me rather an 
uncanny feeling. 

It was fully a quarter of an hour before Mademoi- 
selle Werner dismissed her visitor and joined us on 
the terrasse. She talked with great animation about 
the fine weather and the beauty of the view, address- 
ing her conversation quite as much to, the bearded old 
woman as to me, a touch of courtesy that greatly 
pleased me. I found out that the old woman was a 
cousin, Madame Grison, and that the two lived to- 
gether at Mon Bijou. Finally, we all went into the 
drawing-room and the lesson began. 

There was no music in sight. We sat down to the 
piano together, while Madame Grison established her- 
self at the window. Mademoiselle Werner had singu- 
larly small hands for so large a woman, and she let 

148 



AN ETUDE OF BEKTINI'S 



them race up and down the keyboard with marvelous 
skill. She was evidently an accomplished musician. 
Once in a while she had me play a scale, appealing 
to the old woman for the relation between the differ- 
ent scales, and sometimes even for their composition. 
Occasionally I was able to answer these questions 
myself, and this greatly amused Mademoiselle Werner, 
and she told me that it was I who ought to be the 
teacher. But we did no one thing for more than two 
minutes at a time. Once I believe I ran the scale of 
G major over three octaves and back again, but that 
was the longest excursion I was allowed to make. 
The old woman interrupted, the maid came to the 
door to ask about some household matters, or was 
called and bidden to look up some music in the cellar. 
Mademoiselle Werner dashed off a roulade. Then 
she would talk, perhaps ten minutes at a time, and 
not a note would be struck. 

" I ought not to teach you music." she said : •• I can- 
not do it ; I do not know it myself ; I never learned. 
Yes, I play ; it is true. But do you know how I do 
it ? It is by instinct. It is all in my heart and not 
in my head. I am a genuioe child of fantasy. With 
me it is all impulse, not at all the reflection. Yes, I 
improvise. I never know what it will be like. I do 
not see the notes ; I only feel," — she pushed me aside 
unconsciously, and played for several minutes. It 
was entrancing music, full of delicate sentiment, but 
with an imdercurrent of tragedy that fairly frightened 
me. She broke off as abruptly as she had begun, and 

149 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



went on speaking. " I have not always played. It 
has only been within the last few years. I am not a 
musician, I am an artist. But once I had to speak in 
music. It was after my dear mother died, and my heart 
was breaking. I went to an old friend, a musician. 
I told him he must teach me to play. He understood. 
He had loved my dear mother when she was a girl. 
He put me to sleep — what do you call it ? — yes, 
hypnotism, that is it. He hypnotized me. That was 
the way I learned to play. Is it not so, ma cousine ? " 
The old woman grunted. " So you see, I do not 
know how to play ; I only play ; " and Mademoiselle 
Werner laughed as delightfully as a child would, in 
telling you of some prank. 

I really wanted to play a few notes and began run- 
ning one of the scales, when Mademoiselle Werner 
happened to glance out of the window and notice that 
the sunset was very beautiful. She sprang to her 
feet and cried impetuously, " Come, it is much too 
beautiful to remain indoors. Let us go out on the 
terrasse for a time. Come, ma cousine ; come, Mr. 
Percyfield!" 

The old woman declined to leave the house, but sat 
at the window where she could see the sunset and the 
terrasse. She was, however, out of hearing. Made- 
moiselle Werner and I hurried out to the terrasse and 
sat down on a bench facing the mountains. The sun- 
set was magnificent. It was quite comparable to the 
entrancing music that Mademoiselle Werner had just 
been playing. The valley below us and the lower 

150 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINI'S 



hills were passing into the shadow, and the great 
earth circle that separates night and day was creeping 
up toward the eternal snow on the bosom of Mont 
Blanc. The sky itself was on fire with orange and 
gold against a backgi-ound of luminous yellow, and 
that fascinating green which one sees only in the sky. 
To the east there were heavy clouds of purple touched 
with the yellow and rose glint of the sunset. There 
was something almost terrifying in the beauty, like 
the imdercurrent in Mademoiselle Werner's music. 
It seemed daring even to be looking at it. I glanced 
at Mademoiselle Werner. The sunset glow was re- 
flected in her face. I think I have never seen any 
one look so beautiful. This child of nature, this great, 
simple soul, living as she did absolutely in the present 
moment, was living now the splendid drama of the 
sunset. Her face was radiant, transfigured. It was 
as if she saw the open gate of heaven. 

I think that Mademoiselle Werner entirely forgot 
my presence. I was not sorry, for it was not a time 
for speech. We have mighty words in the language, 
but they are hopelessly inadequate in the face of Na- 
ture. One must be content to feel the beauty and to 
leave unuttered the things that are inexpressible. 

Presently a noise startled Mademoiselle Werner. 
It was only the gardener. He was raking the little 
pebbles on the path. " Alfred," she cried, " is it not 
entrancing ? " 

" Yes, Mademoiselle, it is magnificent," a deep 
bass voice called back. There was considerable feel- 

151 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



ing in it, though I doubt not that he was often called 
from his meditations into the glory of the present mo- 
ment and was perhaps a bit used to it. 

" I always speak so to my people," said Mademoiselle 
Werner, partly in explanation and partly apologet- 
ically. '' They ought not to live with us and not grow 
better. Do you think they ought, Mr. Percyfield? 
It is terrible to be just a body and not to have a soul. 
Or to have a soul and to have it asleep ; " — then, rais- 
ing her voice, '- ma cousine, is it not heavenly ? Call 
Ida and Sophie and tell them to go now into the 
garden. It is wicked to be in the kitchen." 

The old woman only gi^unted, for Madame Grison 
was not much given to conversation, so Mademoiselle 
Werner herself did the calling — " Ida, Sophie, come 
quickly ! It will be too late." 

Then I saw two stolid peasant girls come out of the 
house, and walk towards the edge of the woods. 
They stood there patiently with their faces turned to- 
wards the sky. I could not help wondering what they 
saw. Certainly not what Mademoiselle Werner saw. 
She herseK sat there like a worshiper, with her hands 
tightly clasped. She continued to look across the 
valley, but the light was fading now, and she went on 
talking. " It is a dreadful thing to be shut out from 
all this. How can they be so cruel as to shut any one 
up for life, — for life, — think of it, Mr. Percyfield ! 
That was what they did to the peasant who killed the 
Empress of Austria. It was shocking, brutal, to kill 
a harmless woman that way. But, Monsieur, it was 

152 



AN ETUDE OF BEETIXI'S 



the evil of a moment. They could have hung him, or 
they could have tried to soften and redeem him. But 
this — it is too dreadfuL He is shut up for life, and 
each day his soul grows darker and more embittered.'' 
Mademoiselle Werner covered her face with her hands. 
As she had lived the ecstasy of the sunset, so she 
lived the tragedy of the condemned. In a moment, 
she dashed her hands down and turned to me appeal- 
ingly, '' You are a man, Mr. Percyfield. Make them 
stop doing these dreadfid things. Do not let them 
shut any one up for life, no matter what evil he has 
put into one wild moment. It is because I have had 
trouble, moi, that I feel so deeply for those who sor- 
row. Has Mademoiselle de CandoUe told you any- 
thing of my Life ? No ? There has been a cloud hang- 
ing over me — even sometimes, I think. Monsieur, 
over my mind. No, I am not mad. But it was this 
way. Six years ago I lost my dear mother. It was 
as if my own life went out. My body was here, but 
my spirit was in the grave. Have you, too, suffered ? 
Ah, then, you will understand. And there were other 
troubles. I painted, oh, yes, I painted. It was all I 
could do. It was that thing that kept me from going 
mad. But I could not sell my pictures. They were 
too tragic. An artist, Monsieur, puts his soid into his 
pictures. It is what you must put into your books, 
your very soid. They were well painted, those pic- 
tures. Yes, I know they were well painted. But no 
one woidd buy them. The people looked at them and 
wept, for there was no hope in those pictures. I was 

153 



JOHX PEKCYFIELD 



worried as well as sad. We had our house in Geneva, 
ma cousine and I, and then we had this little house in 
the woods, and we were paying rent for both of these 
places. Ma cousine's fortune is not large, and I, I have 
only my hands. What could I do, Monsieur ? Then 
suddenly everything changed. The proprietor who 
owned this little house was a drunken fellow. He 
could not keep it. It was taken for debt. The new 
proprietor sold it to ma cousine very favorably. A\^e 
gave up the house in Geneva. Now we have no rent 
at all to pay. We seem suddenly to be rich, for ma 
cousine' s little fortune is enough. And now, Monsieur, 
the people buy my pictures. Yes, I have put hope 
into them. It is not only that we have ceased to 
worry about the money. But something else hapi>ened. 
It was strange, but it is true. Monsieur, and I should 
like to teU it to you. I have no one to talk to. Ma 
cousine is a kind woman. She has given me this 
house for my own ; she treats me as a daughter. 
Yon most respect that old woman even if you cannot 
admire her. But she is coarse. She cannot help it. 
She has the spleen. She loves me. but she does not un- 
derstand me. I am aU, what do you call it — geist ? 
Yes, that is it, I am all geist. I should be quite 
alone, were it not for that strange thing that hapi>ened 
to me. It was only last spring. Monsieur, that the 
cloud lifted and the hope came back. This was the 
way it happened. I had been in Paris to see the pic- 
tures. I did not want to go. Ma cousine insisted. 
It did not do me any good. I knew how to paint. It 

154 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINTS 



was the soul that was heavy. Ma eousine met me in 
Geneva. We came on the steamboat out to Hermance. 
We drove up to this little house. I had been much 
agitated. But the earth was very beautiful — Mon 
Dieu, how beautiful it was ! The trees were a tender 
green. The flowers were springing up on all sides. 
The air was so fresh and very sweet. A strange peace 
came into my heart. I thought perhaps that I was 
dying and that I was going to my dear mother. 
When we reached the house, I begged ma oonsine to 
remain below, and not to send either Ida or SopMe 
to me. I went upstairs to my dear mother's room. 
We had always kept it just as it was when she died. 
I knelt down at her bed. I do not know how long I 
remained there. My dear mother came and stood be- 
side me. I felt her presence. Then she, too, knelt, 
and put her arms around me. No, I did not see her. 
But I knew how she looked without opening my eyes. 
I saw her, Monsieur, with the spirit. No, she did not 
speak to me. It was not necessary. I felt her love 
in my heart. That strange peace took complete pos- 
session of me. And, Monsieur, it has never left me. 
It was my resurrection.'' 

Mademoiselle Werner had risen, and in her radiant 
beauty she looked, indeed, like one who had 
through the tomb, and had left there aD that 
earthly and unspiritual. By this time the sunlight 
had faded from even the highest summits of the Alps 
and the air was orowins: chillv. 

" Come,'' said Mademoiselle Werner. "Let ns go 
155 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



into the house and eoDtinue the lesson.** She took 
my hand and led me, as she would have done a child. 
And indeed. I felt myself a boy in the presence of a 
spirit, older and more severely tried. 

The old woman was still in the drawing-room. She 
had lighted a lamp and placed it near the piano. 
Ida, too, had been successful, and had found the piece 
of music that Mademoiselle Werner wanted. It was 
an etxide of Bertini's. I went through it very clumsily 
indeed, first one hand, then the other, then both, with 
long pauses when the notes wandered into the leger 
lines, and with variations in the tempo that must have 
included all possible fractions. Afterwards Made- 
moiselle Werner played it, and limited as the compo- 
sition was, it now sounded like rippling music, and I 
found it hard to realize that it was the same piece. 
It was past seven when I rose to go. Mademoiselle 
Werner held out her hand. " I cannot teach you, Mr. 
Percyfield," she said, " because I do not know myseK. 
But when you have learned to read, come, and we wiU 
play the four-hand pieces together. I want you to 
keep this etude. I wiU give you the address of a much 
better teacher. She was to have been ma belle-soeur, 
but my fiance died.*' She wrote the address in my 
notebook very quickly. She had marvelous hands. 

Then I bowed to 3>Iadame Grison, took Mademoi- 
selle Werner's hand for a moment and passed out into 
the darkness. It was still August, but already there 
was the odor of decayed leaves in the air. As I 
walked back to the Chateau, I had a strange, un- 

156 



AN ETUDE OF BEETINTS 



earthly feelings as if I weie in a dream world* The 
white limestone road stretched throogh the gloooi, like 
a ghostly thread in the Toid of space. The fields 
and woodlands were confused shadows. I was g^ad 
to find myself at the Chateau again, and to join the 
Chatelaine and the United Kingdom at onr delaved 
dinner. 

I conld not easily forget that first afternoon wiih 
Mademoiselle Werner. What impressed me most at 
the time was her improvising, though later, I think it 
was the story of the doad that hnng over her ^irit, 
and of her resorrectiim into the gfadness of life. It 
has always seemed to me tiiat to improvise is about 
the most wonderful thing that a man can do. I think 
if I conld improvise, I should die happy. I have a 
friend who does it. Bat like other obstinate people, 
he declines to be a musician. He is merdtf a ^ hisloiy- 
man." as Charlotte calls him. He comes to see me on 
the average just about once a year, but his ^isit is 
always a long one. He comes veiy earfy, usually at 
half past seven, rings the bell hesitatin^^, and says 
that he has run in for half an hour's talk. Tbas 
does not at aU deceive me, for I know perCec^ weD 
that he will linger until after midnight. 

I have an inbdlible way of disposing of guests who 
stay too long. When I think it is quite time lor 
them to go home, I withdraw my interest. The effect 
is marvelous, for it makes the room seem suddeily 
quite empty. I had onoe a young fellow calling on me 
who was not at all expert in the ait of leaving. He 

157 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



stayed and he stayed and he stayed. It was approach- 
ing midnight. Charlotte tells me satirically that I 
make myself too interesting. On this occasion I was 
growing decidedly sleepy. Suddenly I resolved to 
withdraw my interest. The young fellow sprang up 
and said hurriedly, '' Well, Percyfield, it 's quite time I 
was going.*' For the moment I was afraid that I had 
spoken aloud, but his cordial handshake and the fact 
that he came soon again entirely reassured me. 

This method of speeding the parting guest may 
not seem entirely hospitable, but really I never use it 
except under pretty strong provocation. I am some- 
thing of a night-owl myself, and should rather talk, or 
even be talked to — by the right people — than sleep. 
For example, there is my college chum, the naturalist. 
When he gets to talking about the birds, and gives 
their calls and tells how he watches them in the forest, 
I could listen all night, and sometimes I come pretty 
near to doing so. One night, I remember, he stayed 
until half past one o'clock. The next time I saw him, 
he called out to me, " I must keep better hours, 
Percyfield. Mother was sitting up for me the other 
night." 

" What did she say ? " I asked. 

" She looked at me, then she looked at the clock, 
and then she said, ' Poor Mr. Percyfield.' " 

I never dismiss the history-man. He is one of the 
most interesting talkers I know. I never read his 
books, for I don't go in much for history, but I dare 
say I get the better and more human side of him dur- 

158 



AN ETUDE OF BERTIXI'S 



ing his visits. There is time for several things to 
happen in the course of a five-hour call, and usually 
among other things he plays for me. It makes a 
pleasant break. He used sometimes to play Meyer- 
beer, but he did it harshly, and I took little pleasure 
in that part of the programme. But afterwards he 
would play very gently and very softly, sweet, low 
chords that showed me he had a warm, human side to 
him, if only he would let it out. Then he would turn 
around shyly and say, '• You never heard that before, 
did you ? " and I would shake my head^ knowing full 
well what was coming. '' Well/' he would go on, *• I 
never played it before. It kept running: through my 
head this morning before I got up." 

On one of these annual visits, or ^* \-isitations," as 
Charlotte himiorously called them, the history-man 
found us still at dinner. He is a bashful man, and I 
had difficulty in persuading him to join us for a plate 
of cream and a cup of black coffee. He need not have 
been afraid. There was only Charlotte, my aunt Percy- 
field, our friend of many talents, — the one we call 
Miss Polyhynmia, — and myself. We put the history- 
man next to Miss Polyhymnia, and he was soon more 
at ease, for she had read all his books and fortunately 
admired them. Presently we went into the drawing- 
room, and the hours began to roll aroimd. The old 
French clock on the mantelpiece is in good order, but 
we never wind it up, for Miss Polyhymnia says it is 
not polite to be forever telling your guests what o'clock 
it is. As she usually stops overnight with Charlotte, 

159 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



she can speak disinterestedly. But I could hear the 
dining-room clock ticking away. It struck eight, then 
nine, then ten. My aunt Percyfield is an old-fashioned 
gentlewoman and believes in retiring early. She keeps 
the same hours in town that she does out at Uplands. 
Shortly after ten, she excused herself and went up to 
bed. Her room was the second story front, directly 
over the drawing-room. Presently we heard the un- 
mistakable thud of two shoes on the floor above. My 
aunt Percyfield must have dropped them from the 
height of the bed, at least, for otherwise they could 
never have made so much noise. I knew her too well 
to think that it was accidental. 

" Do you hear that ? " said the history-man. 

" Yes," said Charlotte, with perfect composure, " but 
I hoped that you didn't." 

It was then that I asked the history-man if he kept 
up his old habit of improvising. For answer, he went 
to the piano and began to play ; not so well, I thought, 
as when we were alone, but stiU very sweetly. When 
he stopped, and we had all praised the music, I began 
inquiring how he did it, for just then I was studying 
psychology, and was much interested in the question 
of method. 

The history-man looked thoughtful. " I don't know 
exactly how I do it," he said, finally. " I seem to 
hear a voice, and I foUow it the best I can. You 've 
noticed in a chorus that sometimes one voice rings 
out clear and high above all the rest. I do not see 
the keys, but I hear that leading voice and try to catch 

160 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINFS 



it in the air. The accompaniment represents the other 
voices.'* 

AYe were all deeply interested, and Miss Polyhym- 
nia wanted to know if he could improvise, if some one 
else suggested a line of thought. The history-man 
offered to try, and at his bidding, Charlotte read a 
poem. Of all difficult, impossible things in the world, 
she selected my dear Matthew Arnold's " Self-depend- 
ence," the poem beginning, " Weary of myself, and 
sick of asking what I am, and what I ought to be." I 
was about to cry out that the task was unfair, but our 
improvisatore went again to the piano, and turned the 
poem into a fine bit of subjective music. Charlotte 
and Miss Polyhymnia were less impressed than I was, 
for I don't think they realized how difficult the task 
was. My own praise, however, was warm enough to 
cover any deficiencies on their part — or, at least, I 
hope it was. 

Miss Polyhymnia knows her Matthew Arnold by 
heart, and so I asked her if she would not repeat some 
lines with a little more of the outer world in them. 
She looked into the fire a moment, and then throwing 
back her head, repeated in a voice that was itself 
music, the last part of Sohrab and Rustum. The 
father, you remember, sits with his dead son on the 
sands by the river, and then comes that sudden break 
from human anguish to the calm of Nature, — " But 
the majestic river floated on, out of the mist and hum 
of that low land, into the frosty starlight." I was 
proud of the history-man and was almost minded to 

161 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



read his books. He gave us the picture in his music, 
quite perfectly, — the anguish of the father who had 
unwittingly slain his own son ; the pathos of the soli- 
tary old man sitting there on the sands with his dead ; 
then the calm onflowing of the Oxus, and finally the 
low breakers and dull boom of the Polar Sea. It 
reminded me of Rubinstein's Kamennoi-Ostrow, where 
the surge of the Baltic forms the background for the 
old Gregorian chant of the monks. 

In spite of my aunt Percyfield's dreadful hint, the 
history-man remained until after midnight, and even 
then Charlotte and Miss Polyhymnia and I sat over 
the fire a full half hour longer, talking about many 
things. Miss Polyhymnia is a person with a great 
passion for symbolizing. Besides giving people rather 
fanciful names, she has a fashion of describing them 
in terms of color. Charlotte is royal-blue, I am laven- 
der, and my aunt Percyfield is burnt-siena. Miss 
Polyhymnia usually sends me a New Year's card, and 
she is apt to write on it, " May the philosopher and 
man of sentiment realize lavender." She had some 
difficulty in disposing of the history-man, and it was 
that that kept us up so late. Finally she decided that 
he was a complex character, and assigned him pinkish 
brown, the color of Lisbon marble. Then we were 
able to go to bed. 

I wonder what name and color Miss Polyhymnia 
would give to Margaret. 

Mademoiselle Werner's belle-sceur that was to have 
been preferred to come to the (Chateau to give the 

162 



AN ETUDE OF BEETINI'S 



lessons. Her name was Martigny. She was so dif- 
ferent from Mademoiselle Werner that often I looked 
at her and wondered what kind of a man the dead 
brother could have been, the one that Mademoiselle 
Werner was to have married. Madame Martigny was 
tall and angular, always di^essed in black, and had a 
chronic stoop. She was entirely unimaginative, but 
her long, bony fingers were as supple almost as Made- 
moiselle Werner's, and she proved to be an excellent 
teacher. I doubt if she ever improvised a dozen notes, 
but she knew music thoroughly, — that is, the objec- 
tive part of it. My own slender knowledge of tetra- 
chords, scales, major and minor, dominant fifths and 
diminished sevenths, was as nothing before this ency- 
clopaedia. Madame Martigny made me work, too, 
which was perhaps her greatest service. And when I 
stumbled and balked, she took it so much to heart that 
I resolutely tried to do better. I learned the Etude 
of Bertini's and indeed a whole book of them. It was 
not inspiring gynmastics, and the further I progressed 
the more I realized how impossible it would have been 
for Mademoiselle Werner to have gone through all 
this drudgery with me. But I was, myself, quite will- 
ing to pay the price, for it meant the open door into 
a modest corner of paradise. 

Sometimes I would work for weeks without making 
any very appreciable progress. But gi-aduaUy I found 
my fingers growing less and less stubborn, and the 
musical score more and more of an open book. My 
great reward, however, came very suddenly. I had 

163 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



been working hard for fully six months, three lessons 
a week, and an hour of daily practice, — or perhaps 
I ought to say nightly practice, for the hour was 
usually from eleven until midnight. It was my last 
lesson, for I was going into Italy for two or tliree 
months the very next day. Madame Martigny ap- 
peared with a little roll in her hand. We always 
went over the scales, major and minor, every lesson, 
and then we had a soul-trying exercise for the greater 
liberty of the obstinate ring-finger. We did all this 
as usual, and then Madame Martigny produced her 
little roll and untied it. It was a prelude of Chopin's, 
and she put it on the music rack before me. I glanced 
at it, and to my own vast amazement, proceeded to 
play it. 

Great God, what a thrill went over me ! 

It was a simple prelude, slow and easy chords, but 
had it been the Twelfth Nocturne itself or one of the 
Ballades, I could not have been more moved. To 
have loved music passionately and to have believed 
the door closed, and then suddenly to find it open — 
it was like a revelation. I shall never be able to play 
for people. As Madame Martigny humorously re- 
marked, I am too old to blossom out as a boy pianist. 
But to play these sweet and simple things for myself 
will keep up my courage for that next incarnation 
when I am to sing and to play the violin. 

Madame Martigny's pleasure was touching. It was 
a satisfaction to her, of course, to have been so suc- 
cessful a teacher, but she is an unselfish soul, as I sup- 

164 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINI'S 



pose every good teacher must be, and I know that her 
deepest pleasure was in my own very evident delight. 

I had been many times to see Mademoiselle Werner, 
and had come to have a genuine affection for her. I 
found her always the same, living absolutely in the 
present moment, and in spite of her excitability, radi- 
ant with her new-found peace. She spoke to me of 
many things, gravely and reverently, but with all the 
frankness and directness of a child. In everything 
she said there was that same intenseness, that same 
vitality, that had made such an impression on me 
at the time of our first talk on the terrasse. She 
often played for me, but she had never asked me how 
my own music came on. I rather marveled at it. 
After that last lesson with Madame Martiguy, I went 
up to Mon Bijou to bid Mademoiselle Werner good-by. 
Then for the first time she asked me about my music. 
I told her the story of the prelude. She listened with 
rapt attention. When she broke the silence she spoke 
very slowly, looking directly into my face all the time. 

" You have had a lesson," she said, " every Monday 
and Wednesday and Friday at four o'clock in the 
afternoon, and at night you have practiced from 
eleven to twelve." 

" Yes ; but I never told you. Mademoiselle Werner. 
How did you know it ? " 

" Know it ? " she laughed softly. " It was I, Mon- 
sieur, who arranged it all." 

I was completely mystified. " I do not understand," 
I said stupidly. 

165 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



" My friend," said Mademoiselle Werner, more 
gravely, " do you not know that you live very near 
the boundary between the visible world and the un- 
seen? Do you not feel it? Are you blind? This 
quest of yours, that you call in your droll way the 
search for the indeterminate good, began when you 
were a very little boy. It has been at the bottom of 
everything that you have done. It is this that has 
driven you from one pursuit to another, that will 
go on driving you. Do you know what it is, this 
search of yours ? You do not know? I will tell you. 
In reality, it is the search for God." Mademoiselle 
Werner had risen, as she always did when she was 
deeply moved, and stood directly in front of me. She 
had the simple, primitive dignity that I fancy might 
have attached to a prophetess of Israel. Her large 
eyes had in them even more than their usual earnest 
clairvoyance. She continued speaking : " You will 
succeed. I know that you wiU succeed. You are 
good and true, — it is all that is required. You have 
begun to live the life. Already you have consciously 
started on the Path. It commences here and ends in 
infinity, with the Perfect One. The greater part of 
your knowledge, do you know where it comes from ? 
It comes to you by instinct. Is it not so? Yes, I 
know that I am right. Being this sort of a man, Mr. 
Percyfield, it is possible for those who are strong in 
the spirit to speak to you in other ways than by word 
of mouth. I arranged with Madame Martigny about 
the hours for the lessons. But the houi^s for the prac- 

166 



AN ETUDE OF BERTINI'S 



ticing I arranged with you directly." She paused and 
regarded me attentively. 

" I think I understand, Mademoiselle Werner. It 
was a case of suggestion." 

" Yes, my friend. I could do it with safety. I 
knew that the late hour would not hurt you." 

" But, dear Mademoiselle Werner, why did you do 
all this? Why did you want me to practice at 
night?" 

" Ah, my friend, I did not mean to tell you that. 
But I know that you will not be offended. I am dis- 
engaged at those hours. These wintry days I must 
stop my painting at four o'clock. I retire a little be- 
fore eleven, but I do not sleep until it is midnight." 

" And do you mean to say," I cried incredulously, 
" that you have given me your conscious thought every 
lesson, every hour of my practice ? " 

" Yes," said Mademoiselle Werner, simply, " I have 
helped you with my thought." 

I could not speak. I who have had great kindness 
from all the world, had never yet had kindness such as 
this. Ten hours a week for six months, Mademoiselle 
Werner, all unasked, had been working for me in her 
spirit. It mattered not whether the work had been effec- 
tive or not, for these things are still beyond my compre- 
hension, but the gentle, human service had been the 
same, I was quite overcome and could not break the 
silence. 

Mademoiselle Werner spoke to me gently. " My 
friend, you are not offended? " 

167 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



''No, Mademoiselle Werner, I am not offended. 
How could I be offended ? But I am too deeply touclied 
for words. No one has ever shown me such goodness, 
such devotion." 

" It is nothing," she answered, lightly. " You have 
given me a better service, your comradeship and your 
sympathy. This — it is a little thing. But it was 
all that I could do." 

I took Mademoiselle Werner's hand, and pressed it 
for a moment to my lips. It was not after the gal- 
lant manner of the French that I did it, but after the 
heartfelt manner of a simple Pennsylvanian, 

The following day I went into Italy. 



168 



CHAPTER yn 

CROSS KOADS 

There are two hotels at Pompeii, the Pension 
Suisse and the Hotel Diomede. I stayed at the Pen- 
sion Suisse, which was a piece of great good luck. 

I went down from Naples on the evening train. It 
must have been after eight when I reached Pompeii. 
There were no other passengers getting off there, and 
I was poor prey, for I carried only my suit case and 
an umbrella. There were at least fifteen hungry por- 
ters waiting for me. I felt sorry for them, but no 
amount of pity could divide my suit case into two por- 
tions without seriously damaging it. As it was, one 
able-bodied man carried my umbrella, and another 
took possession of my case. A third tried to help me, 
but was denied the privilege. Considering that I 
carry both case and umbrella myself without the least 
inconvenience, I felt that two men were almost suffi- 
cient. The other men would have much enjoyed car-c 
rying my hat, my coat, and one glove apiece, but as I 
preferred to wear these, my two men and I proceeded 
to the Pension Suisse, while the other porters, reduced 
to the unlucky number of thirteen, followed us grum- 
bling. When I got to the Pension Suisse, — it is 
only a step from the station, — the proprietor said it 

169 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



was very regrettable, but he had not a single chamber 
vacant, and he knew the Hotel Diomede was equally- 
crowded ; if, however, Monsieur would be contented 
to go to the dependance, he would find it entirely 
comfortable and everything could be happily arranged. 
It seemed to be Hobson's choice, and Monsieur took 
it. Although the dependance was stated to be very 
near, it was thought wiser to drive there. After a 
due amount of waiting, the proprietor's son appeared 
with the wildest, most top-heavy little vehicle that I 
have ever intrusted my person to. It was a sort of 
open chaise, perched aloft on top of four little wheels 
that looked like wooden spools. The pony was small, 
but wicked. When we were packed in, and two other 
porters had disposed of my suit case and umbrella, the 
junior proprietor cracked his whip and off we started. 
He drove more recklessly than Jehu, and literally I 
had to hold on. This speed was intended, I presume, 
to diminish the seeming distance between the pension 
and the dependance, but it was a good half mile at 
any speed. 

Fortunately the moon was shining, and the ride 
not without interest. To the left of the white road 
were the glistening walls and buildings of ancient 
Pompeii, looking like the ghost of a city. To the 
right of the road were equally white fields, with here 
and there the black shadow of a thick-clustering orange 
tree. I had been living a busy life in Rome for some 
weeks past, and this sudden transfer from the imperial 
city to deserted, moon-struck Pompeii, was like pass- 

170 



CROSS ROADS 



ing into a dream. The dependance heightened the 
unreality. It stood white and silent in the midst of 
the dark foliage of an orange orchard, looking as 
ghostly and deserted as the ruins on the other side of 
the road. I asked the junior proprietor if it were a 
part of the ruins, and this he considered such a good 
joke that he kept repeating it, — "A part of ze runes, 
yez, yez, a part of ze runes," — laughing the while and 
showing his white teeth. I was glad he laughed, for 
though I am neither nervous nor a coward, the deso- 
lation of my prospective abode smote me with some- 
thing almost akin to a panic. The cheery laugh of the 
junior proprietor was the only warm-blooded human 
element in the whole uncanny scene. 

The ground floor of the dependance was occupied 
by a sturdy contadino, looking for all the world like 
a well-fed brigand, and by his old mother, of a kindly 
face, but a bit cunning. They both came out at the 
sound of our approach, the old woman carrying an 
antique lantern. It seemed that the wdcked pony 
needed no hitching. He only cared to run away when 
there was some one in the chaise to enjoy the fun. So 
the four of us mounted an outside stairway that led 
to an open stone platform running the length of the 
house, and certainly fifteen feet broad. From this 
platform the world looked even more imreal than be- 
fore. Back of me rose the walls of this curious house, 
white and silent as a tomb. In fi-ont of me extended 
the billowy tops of the orange trees, thro^\'ing back 
the moonlight here and there where it happened to 

171 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



catch the glossy leaves at just the right angle, but 
showing underneath nothing but a sea of mysterious, 
lurking blackness. We passed through a double door 
directly into the room which the contadino said I 
should have to occupy, as it was the only one ready. 
The room went with all the rest. It was really not a 
room, but a long hall. We had entered at one end. 
At the other end was another double door, leading 
into mysterious regions beyond. On each side were 
likewise double doors. There was not a single win- 
dow. And further, as if there were not doors enough, 
I found a trap door in the centre of the floor. It 
would be too bad to have such a unique apartment 
fail of completeness. I really hoped to find a similar 
door in the ceiling, but I could not detect one in the 
uncertain light. However, I shall always please myself 
by believing that there was one there. 

I do not know whether I looked very lonely, or 
whether it was simply on general principles, but when 
the junior proprietor drove away, he tried to cheer me 
up by telling me that the contadino and his old mother 
were really very good people, and that an American 
lady was occupying one of the larger apartments on 
the same floor. The first part of his remark I had to 
take on faith, but the latter part I threw out altogether 
as a bit of pure fiction. I felt sure that no American 
lady would spend a single night alone in such a for- 
lorn old place. 

Then they all left me, and without even a decent 
lamp or candle to keep me company, nothing but a 

17%^ 



CROSS ROADS 



veritable tallow dip in an ancient, saucer-like recep- 
tacle. I might have been an old Roman gentleman 
going to his retirement, save that I had probably to 
occupy myself with too much clothing, and had the 
even greater inconvenience of a memory of modern 
improvements. 

Before going to bed, I took my tallow dip and made 
a tour of inspection. The double doors at the other 
end of the room were fastened, but on the other side, 
so that the fact added nothing to my sense of security. 
The same was true of the double doors on the left. 
The double doors leading to the stone platform could 
be fastened inside, but as there was no window, and I 
am a great stickler for fresh air, I debated for some 
time as to whether I had not better leave them open and 
trust to good luck. I had unfortunately neai'ly a thou- 
sand francs about me, and I had no mind to lose that 
amount. Finally I decided to lock the doors. There 
was a crack under them as broad as one of my aunt 
Percyfield's hints, so after all, I got some air. When 
I tried the fourth pair of double doors, those on the 
right wall, they yielded without the least resistance, 
and opened part way into the darkness. I heard a 
voice say, " Excuse me." It was distinct and well-bred, 
apparently a woman's. It flashed over me what the 
jimior proprietor had said about the American lady. 
I apologized profusely, explaining that it was such a 
queer old place that I felt I ought to lock my doors. 
The voice begged me not to be distressed, and said 
that it was all right. Do what I could, however, it 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



was impossible to fasten tliat crazy old door, even in- 
deed to make it stay decently shut, so finally I gave it 
up, and undressed in the dark. 

It seemed to me such a capital place for wakening 
and finding your throat cut, that I tried to sleep with 
one eye open, but I was never very good at that sort 
of thing, and was soon fast asleep. It must have been 
considerably past midnight when I awoke with a start 
to find a bright light shining directly into my eyes. I 
thought the time had come for something to happen. 
I sat bolt upright in bed. My grandfather Percyfield 
used always to laugh at Charlotte and me for what he 
called our rare prudence in the presence of danger. 
If Charlotte hears a noise at home, she flings open 
her door, and marches straight downstairs, candle in 
hand, to see what the matter is. And I have the 
same instinct of investigation, feeling always that it is 
better to know with what you have to deal. For the 
moment I was too dazzled by the light to have any 
very clear idea as to what was going on. When I 
found my wits, I saw that the light was in the next 
apartment, and was shining into my eyes through the 
crack in those crazy doors. It was the apartment in 
which I had heard the voice. 

Thoroughly alarmed, I rushed over to the doors. 
" Madame," I cried, " is there anything wrong ? Do 
you need help ? " 

The same voice came back to me, distinct and quite 
as serene as the evening before. " No, I thank you. 
Nothing is wrong. I could not sleep, so I am reading." 

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CROSS EOADS 



Again I apologized and went back to bed. I was 
somewhat ashamed of my impetuousness, but the place 
was so dismal and I had heard such tales of Italy that 
it did not occur to me that the light came from any- 
thing so entirely peaceable as a midnight student. 
Pretty soon I heard a chair being moved against the 
obstinate door, and then the light ceased to shine in 
my eyes. 

I settled myself once more, and was just falling 
asleep, when something soft brushed across my face. 
Again I sat bolt upright. Some small object fell to 
the floor and scampered across the room. It was evi- 
dently a mouse. By this time I began to have the 
feeling that I was living in a comic opera, or some 
other sort of a burlesque, and the feeling not being at 
all agreeable, I went at once to sleep, and did not 
waken until the proper season. I noticed that the 
doors on the right wall were still successfully bar- 
ricaded. I partly opened the doors leading out on 
the platform so as to have a little more light and air. 
Then I had a splendid cold bath, and by the time I 
was dressed, I felt quite on the top of the wave. 

I went out into the warm sunshine. At the Chateau 
it was still winter, but here in Italy the spring had 
come. It was a heavenly morning. The sky was blue 
and cloudless, and the earth seemed literally to be 
smiling. In the strong sunshine, the orange trees 
showed their rich green color, lightened here and there 
by the perfect golden fruit. The contadino and his 
mother were in the courtyard. They told me in rough 

175 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Neapolitan dialect to go into the orchard and help 
myself to the oranges. I should hardly have under- 
stood them, had the words not been helped out with 
gestures so perfect that they seemed to make all words 
unnecessary. I had no knife and spoon and dainty 
Dresden plate, such as would have been forthcoming 
at Uplands, but nevertheless it was an ideal way of 
having the first course to one's breakfast, to pluck the 
great golden fruit from the trees themselves, and to 
eat it on the spot in however primitive a fashion. 
When I came out of the orchard, the contadino asked 
me how many oranges I had taken and intimated 
that they were two soldi apiece. It was perfectly just 
and proper, but it dashed the poetry a bit. 

Considering that Italy is a land of fruit, one cannot 
help being struck with the fact that fruit is very 
jealously guarded. The walls around the gardens are 
too high to be ornamental, and the pieces of nasty 
broken glass in the top of them tell a story. One 
feels, indeed, in this lovely land of art and sunshine, 
with its waUed gardens and barred windows and much 
bolted doors, that life has too much of the safe-deposit- 
company about it to be entirely agreeable. It is a sad 
contrast after the perfect security of Switzerland. I 
sometimes wonder whether there be any fruit in Italy 
that people feel at liberty to take without calling it 
stealing. It is certainly not oranges. With us in 
America, the apple undoubtedly has this immimity. 
The most respectable people — people who would not 
touch a pin without your permission — seem to feel 

176 



CROSS ROADS 



free to take another man's apples, even when he is 
not looking. I think they must reason that when 
Eve stole the first apple, the race paid so heavily for it 
then and there that the penalty was quite exhausted, 
and the race is at liberty to go on stealing apples to 
the end of the story. 

By the time I had disposed of my oranges and paid 
for them, the junior proprietor and his wicked little 
pony had come to fetch me to breakfast. We took 
the suit case and umbrella along, as there would be a 
room for me at the pension when I came back from 
Vesuvius. I was not sorry to give up the depend- 
ance. 

The breakfast-room was quite full when I entered 
it, and others kept coming and going while I drank 
my coffee, but I saw no one who seemed to answer to 
my picture of the American lady. 

After breakfast we started at once for Vesuvius. 
There were four other persons intending to make the 
ascent on horseback, a German officer and three 
American girls, two of whom had never ridden before. 
The German, being a Prussian, took the best horse. 
The four remaining brutes were what we call in the 
South " sorry " animals. I suggested that the best, or 
the least bad rather, should be given to the novices, 
and that my compatriot in the saddle and I would 
take what was left. She was a plucky girl, as most 
horsewomen are, and took up with the plan very will- 
ingly. They were all mounted except myself. I took 
the reins in my left hand, and put one foot into the 

177 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



stirrup, when my horse threw his hind legs into the 
air with a freedom and abandon that would have done 
credit to a Texas broncho. I do not know whether 
this was from pure exuberance of spirits, a playful 
desire to have his little fling in the world, or from less 
praiseworthy motives. At any rate, I backed off and 
asked the senior proprietor if he had another horse. 

" Ah, if Monsieur will only get on the beast ! " he 
cried, " he will find him an excellent animal.'* 

'' Have you another horse ? " 

" Ah, if Monsieur will only get on ! It is a very 
good beast." 

u YeTj well," said I, " then I will walk ; " and I 
started to follow the party on foot. This brought the 
senior proprietor to terms, and I soon had a fairly 
decent mount. I noticed that the guide rode the re- 
jected beast and was not in a very good humor. Two 
small boys also accompanied us on foot under the 
mistaken impression that they were of some use. 

It was a day to be remembered. In the fii'st place 
the novices got on badly, so badly in fact that I made 
a mental note to the effect that people who do not 
know how to ride ought to learn in private. It was 
impossible to walk all the way, and when those raw- 
boned horses trotted, the girls went thumping up and 
down in the saddles until, I fear me, they forgot it was 
a pleasure trip. One of them soon lost all her hair- 
pins, and as she had rather long red hair, she made 
a somewhat striking picture. The other novice was 
tender-hearted, and was several times reduced to tears 

178 



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because one of the small boys, when we came to the 
steeper part, would cling to her horse's tail. Then 
the guide must take us a considerable distance out of 
our way to a forlorn old inn that we might buy some 
very poor red wine. We quite hurt his feelings by 
declining absolutely to have any of the stuff. He 
said that travelers always bought some. If he uses 
that argument in future, he will not be a truthful 
man. 

The ride itself was an experience. We made our 
way through quaint little villages, where our small 
boys contended with other small boys for the profit of 
opening gates that had apparently been erected for 
this sole purpose. We rode among carefully tended 
vineyards, where brown-legged, red-cheeked boys, al- 
most as beautiful as Apollo, were working over the 
dry volcanic soil. We climbed the gentle slopes of 
the mountain into the keener air, and all the while the 
prospect was growing more marvelous. Then the 
vineyards gave place to bare ashes, and mixed with 
these were copper-colored st .ms of lava, showing 
stUl the seethings and whirlpools of a more plastic 
period. And all the time we kept going up and up 
into the clear blue ether, and the world below was 
growing smaller. 

The bridle-path came to an end in a wild little am- 
phitheatre in the lava. It looked for all the world 
like a bandit's rendezTOus, and it was filled with a 
group of picturesque natives, careless-looking, hand- 
some fellows, who might well have played the tradi- 

179 



JOHN PERCTFIELD 



tional role. The girls were plainly frightened, and I 
was at a loss mvself to guess why there was such a 
crowd of them. Our Prussian twisted his mustache, 
and looked as if he could care for the whole lot, if 
need be. We left our horses in this little amphi- 
theatre, shelteTed from the wind, which now blew 
ireiy oold, and b^an to ascend the last part of the 
monntam on foot. The path was difficult. It was 
Yerj steep, and led ns over loose ashes that let yon 
slip baek so far at each step tiiat sometimes you 
lealfy wondered if yon were making any progress at 
alL I noticed that fonr or five of the quasi-brigands 
came along with ns, and that each carried a broad 
strap oyer his shonlder, with a loop at the end. I 
asked tihe gnide what it meant, and intimated that 
their company was not wanted* He shrugged his 
shonlders as if to say that it was regrettable, but we 
conld not always hare things in this world just as we 
wanted them. When I came to a standstill how- 
ever, he explained that the gentlemen of the leather 
strap and donbtfnl civic position were making the 
ascent on their own responsibility to be on hand in 
case any of ns grew tired and wonld like to be dragged 
np the mountain. There was, indeed, great likeli- 
hood that this wonld happen, for struggling through 
the loose ash and dnder played sad havoc with the 
heart as well as tiie legs, and we had frequently to 
stop for breath. One of the girls qnite gave out, and 
was obliged to hire a man to pull her np the rest of 
the ascent. Whrn we were all about exhausted, the 

ISO 



CEOSS EOADS 



Prussian officer and myself included, the path merci- 
fully turned, and we found ourselves on solid lava, 
with comparatively easy walking. At this point, the 
imemployed strappers slipped back quietly to their 
den, and in a flash I realized the trick they had played 
on us. We might just as well have come the whole 
distance on the solid lava. These fellows had de- 
liberately led us up that ash pile to tire us aU out 
and make their own services necessary. 

But after we got a firm footing, it was a great ex- 
perience, that climbing Vesuvius. At the crater itself 
it was absolutely terrifying. I have never seen any- 
thing so infernal, never anything that seemed quite 
so much like Milton's Paradise Lost. The ground 
itseK was hot, and the whole top of the mountain 
shook with the oft-recurring explosions. Sulphur 
fumes and hydrochloric acid, and other foul smelling 
gases escaped from the cracks in the earth, and almost 
suffocated us. Great clouds of steam and volleys of 
stones were belched forth from the crater. It seemed, 
indeed, hardly safe for us to remain. The little stones 
came pattering down on our heads, and we had no 
assurance that larger ones might not follow their ex- 
ample. But the girls were plucky. They crawled 
with me to the very edge of the crater, and looked 
over into what seemed like the very mouth of helL A 
sense of great horror seemed to settle down upon our 
spirits and crush us flat against the trembling rocks. 
No one spoke. Then by a common impulse, we pulled 
ourselves back from the edge of the crater, and slowly 

181 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



made our way down the summit. It seemed to me 
that I was pushing against an irresistible gravitation 
that would take me in spite of myseK back to the 
crater and over the edge into the abyss itself. I 
understood how a bird may be fascinated and fly into 
the open mouth of the serpent ; or how a man through 
very horror may plunge headlong from a precipice. I 
had the same sense of conflict in making my way from 
the boiling, seething pools in the Yellowstone. A 
cold wind swept over Vesuvius, yet the perspiration 
stood in great beads on my forehead. I looked at the 
girls. They had hold of hands, and in their awe- 
struck faces I could see the same horror that was 
weighing on my own spirit. 

When we had descended to a safe distance, we 
sought a sheltered spot back of some great blocks of 
lava, and had the guide spread our lunch for us. We 
had brought along some eggs to cook in the hot ashes 
at the top, but it had been so terrifying up there that 
no one had thought to do it. The air had given us all 
keen appetites, and I lamented the loss of the eggs. 
" It is all right, sir," said the guide, placidly. " I 
had them cooked before we left the hotel." He had 
no conscience, that fellow. But I fear that I was 
more shocked by the unblushing way in which he let 
us see his evil-doing than by the evil-doing itself. We 
could not help laughing at his impudence, and though 
we disapproved of him, we ate the eggs. We found it 
very pleasant, lunching there in our nook in the lava, 
and looking down on Naples and its marvelous blue 

182 



CROSS ROADS 



bay, with Ischia and Capri in the offing. We were 
in high spirits, as people are prone to be after they 
have been imposed upon and ceased to resent it ; have 
been in some danger and have escaped it ; have been 
alarmed and have gotten over it. The descent, too, 
was great sport. As there was no longer any possible 
advantage in doing otherwise, the guide took us down 
in the quickest and easiest fashion. This was gen- 
erally by way of the ash heaps, where each step, with 
the slipping, carried us down four or five feet at a 
time. 

We met some Cook's tourists on their way up. 
They had come nearly to the top on the ambitious little 
railway. There were three in the party, an EngUsh- 
man and his two daughters. The man was rather 
stout, and was red in the face to the verge of apo- 
plexy. Four men were carrying him up the mountain, 
and considering the difficulty of the undertaking, they 
seemed, even to the Prussian, to be doing it very well. 
But it failed to please the choleric old Englishman, 
and he was cursing them up and down, individually and 
collectively, in a way that was shocking to hear. The 
daughters, sweet-faced young English girls, were pro- 
vided only with one man apiece, and seemed to be 
getting on very well. I looked at the English girls 
curiously to see how the old gentleman's profanity 
affected them. They looked as non-committal as only 
well-bred English girls can, and one of them said to 
the other, — 1 suppose it was Edith to Ethel, — "' It 
is really very hard on poor papa, is n't it ? " And 

183 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



Ethel said to Edith, " Dreadfully hard, and how well 
he is standing it." 

This was not my own view of the case, nor was it 
apparently the view of the American girls, for I am 
sorry to say, they giggled. 

On the whole, the English are tolerably conscien- 
tious sightseers, but they make rather a grave business 
of it. The Englishman looks up and says, "The Jung- 
frau, ah, yes," and makes a note that he has seen it ; 
then goes on to bag other game. But no nation equals 
the French in its blissful ignoring of Nature. They 
used to come down to Geneva, and one would say to 
the other, " Mont Blanc, oui, oui," when they were 
looking straight at the Juras. The Chatelaine tells me 
that during the war, both French and Germans came 
to Geneva, and that the ordinary German soldiers 
knew more geography than the French officers. This 
may account for the French fondness for trying to 
change geography. 

We left the profane Englishman and his sweet-faced 
daughters in ashes if not in sackcloth, and came on 
our own way rejoicing. The Prussian quite redeemed 
himself by offering to escort the two novices, and 
allow the one good horsewoman and me to have a 
splendid ride back to the Pension Suisse. Late in the 
afternoon they all went up to Naples. I remained at 
the pension, however, in the joint keeping of the senior 
and junior proprietors, as I wanted to spend the next 
morning in ancient Pompeii. 

It had been a day full of imusual experiences, but 
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CROSS ROADS 



I was still to meet the greatest one. I had been over 
to the station to see the American girls off to Naples, 
and as it was not quite time for the table d'hote, I 
strolled into the bureau of the hotel and glanced over 
the register. It is a thing I hardly ever do, for a 
hotel register is a collection of hieroglyphics that I 
dislike to think of as human. Why I should have 
done it at that shabby little place, I am still at a loss 
to know. 

Three days before my own coming, I found an 
entry that made my heart stand still for a moment 
and then thump so riotously that I was like to suffo- 
cate. It read, " Mrs. LeRoy Ravenel and maid, New 
Orleans," and then on the next line, " Margaret Rav- 
enel, New Orleans." 

I looked at the nam^ like one in a dream. I rubbed 
my eyes and looked again. It seemed utterly impos- 
sible. I went out into the darkness and walked up 
and down the dusty road. Then I went back to the 
bureau and regarded the two names long and intently. 
The writing was strong and clear. It was a woman's 
hand, evidently a gentlewoman's. It was too bold and 
firm to be Mrs. Ravenel's. It must be Margaret's. 
There was no one in the bureau. I stooped over and 
kissed the shabby page. I examined the cabalistic 
characters that surrounded the names and made out 
that the Ravenels had left on the following day. 

The head waiter came and fetched me to the dining- 
room. The table d'hote was already in progi'ess. The 
courses came and went. I suppose I tasted them. I 

185 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



hardly know. I was not at Pompeii. I was back at 
New Orleans. I saw Margaret, saw her golden chest- 
nut hair and great brown eyes, saw the blue gown 
made in the sailor fashion, smelled the sweet curling 
hair. And now Margaret was a woman. She was 
the woman whom I had been loving all these years as 
my ideal woman. She had made all other women im- 
possible. A sense of utter loneliness came over me, a 
tremendous longing that seemed to sum up in one 
moment the unsatisfied heart needs of all the years. 
It was a pain such as I had never felt before. I bent 
before it like a reed before the wind, I who had always 
been so confident, so debonnaire, so happy, who had met 
the two great sorrows of my life, and in the end had 
robbed them of victory in robbing them of bitterness. 
The pain was intolerable. I Jeft the table suddenly. 
I think it must have been before the dessert, for the 
senior proprietor came rushing after me to ask if 
Monsieur were ill or if the food did not suit him. I 
replied that I was not ill, and that doubtless the food 
was excellent, but that for the moment I preferred the 
fresh air. 

I walked rapidly from the hotel, past the depend- 
ance, and on into the country, how long or how great 
a distance I hardly know. Finally I realized that I 
had quite tu^ed myseK out. I sat down by the road- 
side. The moon was shining brightly. It was a very 
lonely place. It did not matter. If any one wanted 
my thousand francs, he might have them. 

I had no right to think that Margaret would care 
186 



CROSS ROADS 



for me. We had been mere child lovers, and even 

then she had declared that she woidd never marry me. 
Perhaps she was already promised to some one else. 
Doubtless she had plenty of lovers. She could surely 
pick and choose. 

Then came the thought, which cut me like a veri- 
table knife, would I prefer her to all other women, 
even to that ideal woman I had created and dowered 
with her name ? It was almost as if I had a wife. I 
had been living with her day and night for ten years. 
It was a transcendental passion, as strong and pure as 
flame itself. Could the living Margaret rival this 
comrade of the intellect ? Could she be her peer ? 
Could she take her place ? Could she permanently 
supplant her? These were the questions that sent 
their sharp blades into the innermost recesses of my 
heart. 

What if Margaret were narrow, like her mother, 
conventional in her politics and her rehgion, sucking 
the poison of an embittered past. She had lived in a 
provincial city. She had been a dutiful daughter, 
and doubtless she had breathed an atmosphere of 
blight and prejudice. There had been no one to save 
her from her mother, unless it were Peyton. Peyton ! 
Why had she not married Peyton ? He was the only 
one worthy of her ; more worthy, heaven knows, than 
I am. But evidently she had not married him. The 
shabby register of the Pension Suisse bore witness to 
that. Could the boy be dead? Perhaps Margaret 
had not appreciated him. Or, perhaps, — but that 

187 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



could not be possible, — perhaps sbe had kept me in 
her heart, and it had made another love impossible. 
Could it be that she, too, had created an ideal, and 
was loving that? Suppose I had come three days 
earher, and we had met ! Suppose we had been dis- 
appointed, the one in the other, and had had to re- 
name our mended idols, what a ghastly thing it would 
have been. If Margaret were narrow and conven- 
tional and aristocratic, her ideal man w^ould be the 
same. She would not comprehend me. I would 
shock her. I, a liberal, a radical, a lover of Emerson 
and Morris, a hot democrat, a believer in the new 
gospel. Margaret had been an imperious child, a 
queen among us children, but afterwards what had 
happened ? It was impossible to say. One may not 
breathe malaria and not be poisoned by it. It was 
better, perhaps, that we had not met. I could not 
shatter my idol. I could not hve without it. And 
yet — after all, how I longed to see Margaret, even 
on the narrow chance that the living Margaret and 
the ideal Margaret might not be foreign to each 
other. 

The moon was still shining brightly, and all around 
me was the silence of the tomb. I felt a sudden chill 
and reaUzed that I ought not to be sitting there so 
late into the night. I jumped up, and to warm my- 
self, ran all the way back to the pension. When I 
came in, flushed and out of breath, I think I settled 
all doubts in the mind of the senior proprietor, — he 
put me down as crazy. My run sent the blood tin- 

188 



CROSS EOADS 



gling througli my veins. In spite of all my doubts 
and questionings, a great joy was singing in my heart. 
It was the love that I had nursed so long, but until 
now had never felt. I do not blame the senior pro- 
prietor for thinking me quite crazy. He could not 
know what had happened. When a man stalks up 
and down a small salon until late into the night, and 
laughs softly to himself from time to time, it is cer- 
tain that something has happened, and the senior pro- 
prietor, not being a man of sentiment, thought I had 
lost my wits rather than my heart. I think the son, 
with his white teeth and cheery laugh, might have 
understood, 

I had to look once more at the register before I 
went to bed. "Mrs. LeRoy Ravenel and maid'''' — 
that rather bothered me. They had been simple folk 
in New Orleans. The maid seemed to introduce a 
complication, and bespeak a less simple mode of life. 
But when my eye passed on to the next line, — " Mar- 
garet Ravenel, New Orleans," — I forgot everything 
else. Margaret was still alive. She was still Mar- 
garet Ravenel, and I, John Percyfield, was going to 
find her and to marry her. 

This brought me back to the practical world, and I 
began, curiously for the first time, to wonder where 
the Ravenels had gone and how I was to find them. 
I questioned the senior proprietor. It was true that the 
Ravenels had stopped but one night. The young lady 
and her mother had visited the ruins. No, they had 
not gone up Vesuvius ; Madame would scarcely have 

189 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



been able. Tbey had taken the train going north. 
This was all that I could get out of the senior pro- 
prietor, and, poor man, it was probably all that he 
knew. But acting on his theory in regard to myself, 
he gave random answers, such apparently as he thought 
would quiet me, and finally intimated that if Mon- 
sieur would only go to bed, doubtless in the morning 
everything could be happily arranged. I devoutly 
hoped so. 

I had to take a good look at the senior proprietor. 
This man had seen Margaret, had seen her probably 
several times, seen her at her meals, in the salon, 
walking with her mother. But then it occurred to me 
that what he saw differed from what I should have 
seen quite as much as Ida's and Sophie's view of the 
sunset differed from Mademoiselle Werner's. 

The next morning I awoke without any plans. I 
had a wild desire to take the first northern-bound train 
that came along, but I did not yield to it, for it seemed 
altogether foolish to start out to seek the Ravenels, 
without at least some clue to their destination. It 
occurred to me as a humorous possibility that if I 
stayed long enough at the Pension Suisse to reestab- 
lish my reputation for sanity, I might get something 
more out of the senior proprietor, but that plan I also 
gave up. Finally I carried out my original purpose 
of visiting ancient Pompeii, but more, I think, because 
Margaret had been there only three days before and 
it was a comfort even to go over the same ground. 
When I came to Pompeii, I had expected to be tre- 

190 



CROSS ROADS 



menclously interested. I had read the " Last Days," 

and had brought my copy along, so as to go over parts 
of it on the very spot. Then the marrelous things 
from Pompeii in the museum at Naples had added to 
my enthusiasm. But the shabby register of the Pen- 
sion Suisse had undone it all. I wandered through 
the ancient Pompeian streets and among the roofless 
houses. I sat in the home of Glaucus. I let the guide 
spin his interminable tale without interruption or com- 
ment. It was an unreal world to me, and I, a rosy- 
cheeked yoimg man, and apparently of solid limb, was 
the veriest phantom of it all. Every place I turned, 
it was Margaret, and then again Margaret, and still 
once more Margaret. 

There was only one thing that did fetch me out 
of my dream and hold me for some moments. It 
was a simple little thing — the deep ruts that had 
been worn in the lava paving-stones of the street by 
the passing of innumerable carts. It touched me very 
much, this sign of a forgotten human activity. I do 
not know why it is, but a worn stone always appeals 
to me in this way. Even the limestone of our beauti- 
ful Chester Valley, worn by the rain into rounded 
curves and creases, has this effect upon me, and when 
the wearing has been by human uses and by human 
feet, I am conscious of a tenderness and an emotion 
that I cannot well explain. It was so at the Chateau. 
The stone steps in the passageway have been worn 
down several inches by their centuries of human usage. 
Duke and peasant have passed, and repassed ; Mar- 

191 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



gherita and her little golden-haired son have been 
there. It makes the bygone days more real, and en- 
dears the old stones to me tremendously. Those deep 
ruts at Pompeii brought back the old, human, Roman life 
more vividly even than Bulwer had done it. And you 
may remember those curious old statues on the bridge 
of Karl Theodor, the one that spans the Neckar at 
Heidelberg. The rain of centuries has made furrows 
on their upturned faces, as if the poor pink sandstone 
had been worn with much weeping. The effect is 
almost grotesque, but instead of amusing me, it fills 
me with a strange pity. 

In the afternoon I went up to Naples. On the 
train I found myself traveling in such circles in my 
thought that finally I had to force myself to think 
about other things. I amused myself by counting up 
the number of persons I had had to fee during my 
two days at Pompeii. It amounted by actual count 
to fifteen, and as this was exactly the number of por- 
ters at the station on my arrival, they had quite come 
even with me for not having more carryable and divi- 
sible luggage. I did not mind the money, for the 
total amount was small, but it seemed sad that in a 
country which had once been mistress of the world, 
such a large number of the people should now be re- 
duced to this detestable form of beggary. Perhaps it 
is because she proved such a poor mistress, this im- 
perial Rome. Although a lover, I was still a demo- 
crat. 

At Naples I went to the Hotel Riviera, which is, 
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as you may remember, directly on the Bay and near 
the Aquarium. This would be the natural position 
for a hotel with such a name, but it is never safe to 
take it for granted that name and location go together. 
At Antwerp, I once stopped at the Hotel du Grand 
Miroir, and when I asked the waiter where their big 
mirror was kept, he shrugged his shoulders, as if it 
were a very silly question, and said, " Monsieur, it is 
but a name." 

The Hotel Riviera is an old place, and not over 
clean, but the situation is good, and for some reason 
or other, I always prefer to go there. I particularly 
like the old dining-room. There are many handsomer 
ones in Naples, but few of better proportions. It 
opens, too, on a delightful old garden, and indoors the 
sylvan effect is continued by the old-fashioned frescoes. 
That evening, the room was filled with people. As I 
was alone, I was given a place at the long table in the 
centre of the room. The tables were decorated with 
fruits and flowers, the lights sparkled, the waiters flew 
about, ministering to our wants like modern angels of 
mercy, with wings in their feet instead of on their 
shoulders. This was perhaps fortunate, as the wants 
of most of the guests appeared to be vinous and earthly. 
The ladies had on bright evening gowns, and most of 
the men were in their dress suits. It was altogether 
a gay and pretty scene, and I much wanted some one 
to talk to. I should even have been glad to have my 
aunt Percyfield. The people opposite were speaking 
French, but at a speed which completely left me out. 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I did hear one of the women say that there were two 
kinds of trees in Italy, and one of them, the cypress, 
reminded her of a closed umbrella, while the other, 
the stone pine, was the umbrella opened. This seemed 
to her companions rather a clever characterization, for 
the remark was applauded and passed on. The peo- 
ple to my right were speaking more slowly, but in some 
altogether unknown tongue, so I put them down as 
Russians. 

The lady at my left, however, was alone and spoke 
English, so I devoted myself to her. She was a woman 
almost sixty years old, with singularly placid face and 
movements. Her hair was dark gray. It was parted 
in the middle, and was drawn down over her ears in 
delightful, old-fashioned curves. She wore a black 
silk gown, with rather fuU Garibaldi sleeves, and 
about her neck there was the thinnest cambric collar, 
edged with a dainty hem. Similar cuffs folded back 
over the edge of her sleeves. She was a picturesque 
old gentlewoman, and very moderate, too, in the num- 
ber of rings she wore on her fingers. I half guessed 
that she was an American, for European ladies are 
generally not moderate in this respect. I suppose the 
rings come to them as legacies, and have to be worn 
to show how many less estimable persons they have 
survived, — also to get the good of the legacies. But 
ii they only knew what antiquity it suggests, they 
would give over the habit. 

Furthermore, this gentlewoman to my left had no- 
thing about her that could by any stretch of the 

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imagination be called modish, and that pleased me 
greatly. 

It is one of the minor ambitions of my own life to 
be always out of the fashion, and I have Charlotte's 
word for it that I succeed. I am a taU and slender 
man ; an example, I insist, of the coming type ; and 
when I go to the tailor's, he says with the air of one 
initiated into holy mysteries, " We 're making the 
trousers rather tight, this year, sir ; " and I make 
answer, " Nevertheless, my good man, I wish to cast a 
shadow. You will make the trousers as you always 
do, twenty-two inches at the knees, and twenty inches 
over the gaiters." He gToans, but he does it, for 
while he disapproves of my taste, he likes the prompt- 
ness with which I pay my bills. I believe that some 
of the gentlemen who are so particular about having 
their trousers tight are not as prompt, or, as Char- 
lotte, that incorrigible punster, puts it, they are more 
fussy over their stripes than their checks. When 
we come to the coat, the tailor says coaxingly, " You 'd 
like to have your coat fit you this time, would n't you, 
sir?" and I answer cheerily, "Xot a bit of it, — a 
bag, a sack, something I can jump into from the other 
side of the room, without taking particular aim, 
either." Again he groans and does it. 

This unfashionable gentlewoman and I therefore 
made a proper pair. She had a nice voice, too, and 
altogether, we got on famously. 

I thought it might amuse her to hear about my 
night's adventure at the dependance, and so I told it 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



to her as picturesquely as I could. She was much 
interested, and I could not have asked for a better 
listener. When I got through, she looked up with a 
droll smile and said : "I thought I recognized your 
voice. I am the American lady." 

Then she went on to tell me that she had spent a 
week at that crazy old dependance, and that she had 
greatly enjoyed the quiet, for she had been travehng 
pretty steadily. She had come up to Naples only the 
morning before. When I asked her if she were not 
afraid to stop in such a lonely place, she answered 
quietly, — 

" No, I was not afraid. For the past twenty years 
— that is, since I got control of my life — I have 
not known what fear is. I do not expect evil, and 
it does not come." 

In a younger person this might have sounded like 
bravado. In her it was charming. 

The American lady had been at the Pension Suisse 
a week, — then she must have seen Margaret ? I fell 
to questioning her. Yes, she remembered the Rave- 
nels. Mrs. Ravenel seemed rather feeble and broken 
in health, but the daughter was splendid, a regular 
beauty. Did I know them? Yes? Then surely I 
must admire Miss Ravenel. One could not help it. 
She had hoped that the Ravenels might remain for 
several days, but they had only stopped for the one 
night. No, she did not know where they were going, 
but she thought to the north, — to Lombardy, or it 
might have been to Switzerland. She did not know ; 

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she had seen them for such a short time. But with 
Miss Ravenel it was a case of love at first sight. She 
would go some distance to see her again. Much else 
that was very pleasant to me to hear, this American 
lady said, and you may be quite sure that I found her 
a most delightful companion. I did not tell her how 
anxious I was to find the Eavenels, but she easily 
guessed it. When we separated, at the end of the long 
table d'hote, she said to me : — 

" If I were you, my friend, — you will let me call 
you that, since we have gone through such terrible 
adventures together, and since we both admire the 
same young lady, — if I were you, I would ask at the 
Poste Restante, and at the principal bankers, and at 
some of the more probable hotels. Europe is a big 
place, but, after all, the routes of travel are well 
marked out, and people are pretty sure to meet — 
when they want to." 

I thanked her heartily. The next day I followed 
her advice. I inquired at the Poste Restante, at all 
the principal bankers, and at a weary lot of hotels and 
pensions, but I could not find any present trace of the 
Ravenels. They had been at the Hotel Bristol for 
several days, but it had been some time before, on 
their way to Pompeii, and they had e^^dently gone 
directly north on their return, without making a sec- 
ond stop in Naples. I was sadly disappointed, and it 
was while I was in this discouraged mood that I did 
something quite unworthy of myself. I went back to 
Pompeii on the following day to see if there had been 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



any one in attendance on the Ravenels who might 
possibly pass as Margaret's lover. At the Bristol, 
their names on the register had been followed by the 
name of a Mr. George H. Townshend, of Baltimore. 
It was a splendid, manly signature, and I could easily 
associate it with Margaret's. By the time I got to 
Pompeii, however, I was thoroughly ashamed of myself 
to be spying on my lady's movements in this detec- 
tive fashion. It was more worthy of a two-baths-a- 
week man than of a Percyfield. I turned around and 
went directly back to Naples on the next train, without 
going to the Pension Suisse, but I have always been 
ashamed that I came so near to doing a mean thing. 

The journey lost me the express to Rome, and so I 
spent another night at the Hotel Riviera. The Amer- 
ican lady was still there. She had had a note from 
Margaret, considerably delayed by having gone first 
to Pompeii. She said to me at once, however, that it 
told nothing about their movements, not even where 
they were at the time, for it had been mailed on 
the train. She added modestly that it was merely 
to thank her for a trifling courtesy at Pompeii. I 
must have looked my disappointment, for the lady 
produced the note itself, and by way of comfort 
gave it to me. Apparently the best of women make 
these little slips. I could not well decline, for it 
would have been too outspoken a rebuke to my kind, 
unfashionable gentlewoman. I put the note in my 
pocket without looking at it, for I had not the slight- 
est right to read it, and when I got to Rome, and 

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established once more on Monte Pincio at the Gia- 
nelli, I carefully burned the note. I did look at the 
signature just once, and I did kiss it, but that was all. 
I watched the flames devouring the bit of paper so 
fresh from Margaret's hand, and I felt a certain pang 
when it was quite reduced to ashes. But it was what 
my grandfather Percyfield would have done. 

I had no more success at Rome than at Naples. I 
found that the Ravenels had been at the banker's, and 
that they had been for a short time at the Hotel 
d' Italic, but it had been some weeks earlier, and evi- 
dently before their trip to Pompeii. I had to con- 
clude that they had gone northward on one of the 
through trains de luxe^ or else were making their way 
up the Adriatic side. Yet I was not at this time at 
all discouraged. I seldom thought of Mr. Townshend, 
of Baltimore, and his good handwriting ; and when I 
did, I told myself that it was one chance in a thousand 
if the Ravenels even knew him. There was that joy- 
ous something that kept singing in my heart, and 
telling me that I should find Margaret. I grant that 
it was an unreasonable faith, but it kept me buoyant 
and happy and well. 

I spent the rest of the winter and the early spring 
in Italy, chiefly in the north, looking at many things 
and all the time for one thing. 

I lingered especially at Florence, for I felt sure that 
it was a place to attract Margaret. It has always 
been one of my own favorite cities. It seems to me 
that the very landscape there is full of intellect and 

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JOHN PEECYFIELD 



emotion. Nature herself seems controlled and disci- 
plined and temperate, a counterpart to the best and 
loveliest in Florentine art. I was there when the al- 
mond blossoms were out in all their pink beauty, when 
the olive trees were putting out their tender leaves of 
silver-green, when the flower booths on the Lungarno 
and up on the Promenade Michelangelo were bowers 
of sweet-smelling bloom. I bought great bunches of 
the lovely Italian flowers of the spring, bought them 
for Margaret, and bent over them many times in my 
own apartment, but never sadly, always joyfully and 
hopefully. 

I went often to the Uffizi and the Pitti. I stood 
for long moments before the picture of my mother, the 
one Murillo painted before ever she was born. Though 
the tears filled my eyes, I could look at it with loving 
pleasure, for the bitterness had gone out of my sorrow 
and I thanked God that love is immortal. Then I 
would go often into the octagonal chamber and hang 
over Guercino's picture of my dear little Peyton, a 
creature so superior to my poor self that it seemed to 
me as if Margaret must love him instead of me. And 
I wished for that more famous picture at the Louvre, 
which is the picture of Margaret's self. But really I 
had no need for it. I could see the oval of Marga- 
ret's dear face and the mass of chestnut curls, and the 
large brown eyes, and the blue gown made in the 
sailor fashion, quite as vividly as if the child had been 
before me. And in my heart was that happy some- 
thing, a sacred presence singing to me night and day. 

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But the weeks passed, and I did not find the 
Eavenels. 

I wrote incidentally to Charlotte that I had crossed 
the Ravenels' track at Pompeii, and told her what the 
American lady had said about Margaret. But I gave 
it merely as a news item, without any comment. Some- 
times I feel a bit sorry for Charlotte that she does not 
know my secret. She has Frederic, to be sure, and 
even a very small son whom I have not yet seen, but 
it is different. 

I even felt sorry for the people I met in the hotels 
and pensions. It seemed to me that they busied them- 
selves with very unimportant matters, and when they 
did turn to love, they spoke lightly, and I either changed 
the subject or left the room. When one really loves, 
when the heart is stirred to its very depths, one is 
silent ; or if one speaks, it is reverently, as one speaks 
of God, or of the Madonna. It is a consecration. 

It is the same, I think, with an artist. He must 
work in secret. He cannot speak of what he means 
to do, — even of what he is doing. He can only shyly 
show the finished work. These inner reserves are 
necessary, a part of the reverence and sacredness of 
life. To publish them, even to speak of them, is a 
desecration, and heaven pity the man or woman who 
has not these holy secrets. Their lives are threadbare 
and faded like doubtful beauties under a Welsbach 
burner. 

Charlotte is a good sister, the very best of sisters, 
and she understands and respects these moods. When 

201 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I work at home and cannot speak of my work, — we 
have invented a special term for it, — we call it "play- 
ing the violin," When Charlotte asks me what I 
have been doing, and I answer that I have been play- 
ing the violin, she understands and asks no more ques- 
tions. 

Early in May I went back to the Chateau, and I 
journeyed towards it as one does who is going home. 



202 



CHAPTER VIII 

SUNSHINE 

It is spring at the Chateau. The apple orchard 
under the south tower is one mass of pink and white 
bloom. As I stand at the open window of a morning, 
the perfume comes up to me in great draughts of 
sweetness. The luxuriant wistaria over the courtyard 
door has put out its fan-like plumes of light green 
leaf ; the rich clusters of pale purple flowers stand out 
in gay relief against the sombre stone walls. The 
Chatelaine is very fond of her wistaria, and when I 
tell her that it comes from Philadelphia, and is named 
after our good old Dr. Caspar Wistar, I think she 
has an added respect for our intelligence and aesthetics. 
The early roses are out in full force, too, and the 
rough wall of the east wing is covered with a trellis 
full of their cheery yellow blossoms. The Virginia 
creeper has changed great sweeps of our dull gray 
walls to a tender green. On all sides there are signs 
of returning Hfe. The tall and stately poplars have 
bedecked themselves once more, and even the large 
fir tree that stands in the centre of the courtyard has 
its tips of renewed green. 

The snow still lingers on the top of the Juras. They 
stand out white and pure against the intense blue of 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the sky. Lower down, the trees are showing that 
tender, greenish gray that I love so well to see spread- 
ing over our own beautiful Chester Valley in early 
May. The Lake has lost the sombre cast of winter, 
the cold, muddy gray that sends such a chill to the 
heart. It is once more aUve and warm with color, 
the deepest blue, with here and there a patch of exqui- 
site turquoise. On all sides one sees that marvelous 
renewal of life which makes the spring the best season 
of all the year. 

The spirit of the spring penetrates to the innermost 
corners of the Chateau, and reaches even the apathetic 
Scotland. She gives up her letter-writing and her 
novels, and is as keen to be abroad as any of us. She 
has taken to rowing on the lake, with England and 
Ireland for company, when they will intrust them- 
selves to her somewhat erratic boatmanship. She even 
rides Coco, much to my approval and somewhat to my 
inconvenience. She is quite like another person, and 
much more charming than I had supposed possible. I 
cannot imagine what it all means ; I fancy there is 
something more than the spring back of it. I expect 
any day to see that barelegged laird turn up. 

The infection has spread to all of the United King- 
dom. Ireland has begun taking lessons on the wheel, 
and is astonishing everybody by becoming a fairly 
good rider. England will have none of it, and is 
openly solicitous about Ireland's undertaking such 
novelties. England has her own enthusiasms, how- 
ever. She has gone so far as to buy a tennis racket, 

204 



SUNSHINE 



— which she never uses. She has also taken to walk- 
ing, and goes as much as a couple of miles at a time. 
I have offered to wheel around the lake with Ireland, 
and to climb the Dole with England, but neither offer 
has as yet been accepted. 

The Chatelaine is quite the busiest of aU the ladies. 
She goes out on her wheel whenever I do. She super- 
intends the planting of the garden and the trimming 
of the vines. She is constantly going and coming be- 
tween the kind Madame du Chene's and the Chateau, 
carrying seeds or plants or cuttings. It is good to 
see her, our dear Chatelaine, her cheeks aflame, her 
eyes sparkling, every movement instinct with life and 
good will. 

I have fallen very easily into my old occupations, 
but everything goes at quickened speed. I write 
double stints and wheel double courses. I am up 
with the earliest, and midnight finds me still alert. I 
have resumed my French reading wdth the Chatelaine, 
and my music with Madame Martigny. I go to Mon 
Bijou and play simple four-hand pieces with Made- 
moiselle Werner. I take a hand in the occupations 
of the United Kingdom, even in Scotland's crooked 
rowing. I give Ireland some hints about her bicycle 
riding, and sometimes, of an afternoon, I walk with 
England up to the Douvaine route and back. 

I have never been so active, so alert, so alive. The 
days are full of a gentle excitement, and we find an 
embarrassment of delightful things to do. We are all 
of us intoxicated. It is the spirit of the spring. And 

205 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



we have all drunk deep of it. It enters with every 
breath we take. The Chateau itself is permeated 
with it, from the darkest corner of Coco's stall to the 
top of the weather-vane on the south tower. In the 
night, had we listened intently enough, I think we 
could have heard the green things aroimd us growing. 
It is a delight to be alive. There is a sense of good 
fortune in the very air. It is not so much mirth, as 
an abiding happiness, for along with this exuberance 
of life there goes a certain seriousness that gives it 
balance and poise. There is a purpose in the activity. 
In the flowers, we have the promise of fruit. 

It is the season for loving. Mr. Tennyson has 
something to say about this, — " In the spring, a young 
man's fancy " — I always liked that. But the last half 
line, I used to think, needed mending, — " lightly turns 
to thoughts of love," — for not knowing anything 
about it, I thought he meant '' carelessly." I have 
more insight now. I see that he means " easily," 
or "sweetly," or "deeply," "reverently," or even 
" gravely." It is a part of the pulse-beat of things, part 
of the marvelous spirit of the spring, that spirit which 
so saturates one with happiness, and yet brings with 
it an undercurrent of unfulfilled desire, an unutterable 
longing for something, one knows not what. It comes 
most subtly in the afternoons, when the lengthening 
days fill one with a curious surprise, and the slanting 
sunlight, coming at unwonted hours, creates a fresh 
world of new desires. I coidd blame no one at such 
times for playing truant, and following whatever will- 

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SUNSHINE 



o'-the-wisp his fancy might catch for him. I marvel 
that schoolboys can stop in dull schoolrooms when 
the spirit of the spring is on them, and the slanting 
afternoon sun is calling. The little rascals are more 
docile than I should have been, had fate given me a 
schoolmaster instead of my wise old grandfather Percy- 
field. I found it hard enough at college, and indeed 
even there I sometimes gave in, and cut lecture or 
laboratory to steal off to the Fens, or down to the 
coast. 

But this spring it is all curiously different. Life 
has never been so exuberant, and yet I have none of 
the unrest of previous years. 

I have given up the idea of finding Margaret in 
Europe. I mean now to seek her at New Orleans, 
but it is not likely that she will return there before 
the autumn. And meanwhile, I have much to do. 
Love makes one very humble. I realize how little I 
have to offer Margaret, how little in the way of serious 
accomplishment. I have never been a lazy man, but 
my activities have been of rather an amateurish sort. 
I have the uncomfortable feeling that I have never yet 
done my best. I have the habit of work and the love 
for it. My grandfather Percyfield gave me both of 
these, when he seemed to more severe people to be giv- 
ing me neither. And now I have the strongest motive 
to make the work more than good, — to make it the 
best that I am capable of. 

But our dream life at the Chateau was suddenly 
interrupted. 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I had been out one afternoon on Coco. It was one 
of the fairest of days. We had been over to Jussy, 
and around home by way of Vandoeuvres and La 
Capite. The earth was fairly aglow with beauty. 
It seemed to me as if Nature must feel her own love- 
liness and consciously rejoice. There was a touch, 
too, of the spring languor in the air, just enough to 
restrain undue energy, and add a sense of tenderness 
to one's happiness. I came down the lovely avenue 
of oaks that leads from CoUonge to the Chateau. I 
let Coco take his own pace, and Coco's pace, when the 
matter is left to him, is always slow. I was myself 
entirely occupied with the beauty all around me, and 
when I did think at all, it was about my work and 
plans. I came slowly riding into the courtyard, with 
that entire serenity which we usually do bring to meet 
the unexpected. I took Coco around to his quarters, 
and waited until Jean came to unsaddle him. Then 
I paused for some time to note the progress that our 
wistaria was making, and to admire afresh the delicate 
green mantle of the Virginia creeper. I pulled one 
of the yellow roses from the trellis, and stuck it in my 
buttonhole, for I have a foolish fondness for having a 
single flower in my hand or about my person. At last 
I went up the stone stairway towards my room, pulling 
off my riding-gloves as I went. There is a very pretty 
view of the courtyard from the window of the corridor 
on the first floor, and I paused for a few minutes to 
enjoy it. The afternoon was so heavenly that I could 
hardly bring myself to come entirely indoors. When 

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SUNSHINE 



I turned to mount the next flight of st^ps to my own 
room in the south tower, I caught sight at the other 
end of the corridor of an old colored woman. She was 
evidently quite advanced io years, for her hair was 
perfectly white, but she still held herself wonderfully 
erect. I was considerably surprised, for the Chateau 
servants are all Swiss peasants, and it is rare to see a 
colored person, even in Geneva. The old woman came 
along the corridor, carrying a little tray in her hands, 
with a pot of tea on it, and a small pitcher of hot 
water. I had already started upstairs, but when the 
old woman reached the window and I coidd see her 
face, I wheeled around with a great shout, " Aunt 
Viney," I cried ; " Aunt Viney ! " 

The old woman stopped and looked at me intently. 
The tray fell from her hands, and the teapot and 
water pitcher went crashing to the stone pavement. 
But Aimt Viney heeded them not. She grasped both 
of my hands in her two bony ones, and peered into my 
face. She was trembling with excitement. " Marsa 
John ! " she exclaimed. " It 's Marsa John. I de- 
clar to goodness, it 's Marsa Jolm. Oh, honey, whar 
you bin all these years ? I done thought you were 
dead, fo' shuh. Mis' Marg'ret 'U be mighty pleased to 
see you agin, and so '11 Mis' Lucy." 

" They are well? " I said eagerly. 

" Mis' Marg'ret is, but Mis' Lucy 's not as peart as 
we-all 'ud like to have her ; she certainly is not. I 
wur jist carryin' her some hot tea." Aunt Viney 
glanced down at the fragments for the first time, 

209 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



and added simply, " I reckon I '11 have to git some 
more." 

In spite of the fact that I had wrecked Mrs. Rav- 
eneFs cup of tea, I had to keep Aunt Viney a few 
moments longer to find out that Margaret and Mrs. 
Ravenel had reached the Chateau that afternoon ; 
that they meant to stop for several weeks ; that Mrs. 
Ravenel was lying down and Margaret attending her, 
and finally that both ladies would be at dinner. Then 
I let Aunt Viney go, charging her to tell the ladies 
how rejoiced I was at the prospect of seeing them. I 
snatched the rose from my buttonhole, and bade Aunt 
Viney give it to Margaret. I should like to have 
added, " With my love," but I did n't, and when I 
came to think about it, I knew that the rose would 
speak for itself. 

And Aunt Viney was Mrs. Ravenel's maid ! What 
a great stupid I had been. 

I finished the stairs much less serenely than I began 
them. It would be difficult to say what I was think- 
ing about, for my thoughts were in a great jumble. 
Probably I was not thinking at all, for I was so taken 
up with the sense that Margaret was here, at the 
Chateau, and that I should see her in less than two 
hours ! 

When I got to my room, I threw open the win- 
dows very wide, and stood looking down' at the apple 
blossoms. Then I walked up and down the room. 
Finally I threw myself into the bent-wood rocker 
that the Chatelaine had provided for American rest- 

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SUNSHINE 



lessness, and simply waited. I had much better have 
been dressing for dinner, but that not being our cus- 
tom at the Chateau, it did not occur to me. I believe 
I did wash my hands and face and brush my hair, but 
that was all. As the dinner hour approached, — and 
I looked at my watch often enough to keep pretty 
good track of the time, — I found myself growing al- 
most afraid. So much seemed hanging in the balance, 
not only the present and the future, but in a way, even 
the sincerity of the past, for I was to find out whether 
I had been worshiping a reality or a mirage. Had 
Charlotte been there then, I think I could have told 
her everything. What a comfort she would have 
been. But I should not have asked her advice. I 
knew perfectly well what I was going to do. I was 
going to be my natural self, as nearly as could be, and 
let come what would come. When it was too late, I 
did think about dressing, but on the whole I was glad 
that I could not do so. In an excess of honesty I de- 
cided that Margaret must see me just as I was, in 
everything, just a plain, homely man, with more taste 
than talent. 

At last the room, big as it is, got too small for me, 
and I went downstairs to the garden. I busied my- 
self hunting the treUis for another rose, as nearly like 
the one I had sent Margaret as possible. After a bit 
I found one, the exact counterpart, and put it in my 
buttonhole. As I did so, I heard some one say, in a 
clear, imperious voice that was both familiar and un- 
familiar, " I think this must be Mr. Percyfield." 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I turned around. There stood Margaret. 

I don't know what I said, for all my customary 
address seemed to desert me, and I might as well 
have been a shy schoolboy. I remember that I took 
Margaret's hand, and that I did it most clumsily. The 
whole meeting would have been foolishly awkward, 
had not Margaret said, with ready tact, " It seems to 
me, Mr. Percyfield, that you are very hard to please 
in the matter of roses." 

She had evidently been in the garden for some mo- 
ments, and had observed my very slow selection. 

This put me at my ease at once, and I answered 
gayly, " You know men are always stupid about match- 
ing things. I was hunting a rose precisely like the 
one I sent you." 

Margaret had the rose pinned to her gown. She 
looked down at it and then at mine, and said, impar- 
tially, " Well, at any rate, you have succeeded admir- 
ably." 

Then we turned away from the trellis and walked 
towards the Lake, and I had a chance to tell her how 
happy I was to be meeting her again. 

" It has been a long time, has it not ? " Margaret 
said. " More than a dozen years, I think. We shall 
have to be getting acquainted over again. We seem 
destined always to start our acquaintance in a garden." 

" It was Moses' idea of paradise, you know," I said 
quickly. 

Margaret laughed. "Yes," she said; "when I 
have been a little homesick over here, the old garden 

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at Arlington has seemed like paradise. But do you 
always have dinner so late ? I am growing frightfully 
hungry. If there were any apples in this garden, I 
should be tempted to imitate my remote grandmother, 
and steal one." 

" There will be in time, you see ; we 've a great 
wealth of blossom. But I can promise you that we 've 
no serpents, and all you do will have to be on your 
own responsibility." 

Margaret made a wry face. " That sounds tremen- 
dous," she said ; " I think I shall not want to steal 
one, after that. But teU me, what good fortune brings 
you to this delightful old Chateau? " 

" It was evidently the chance of meeting you. I 
came abroad for the indeterminate good." 

"That is very pretty," Margaret answered, "and 
also a little involved. I like your Quaker plainness 
of speech better ; such as your grandfather sometimes 
used." 

" If thee prefers it," I answered, mockingly, " it is 
my home, this old Chateau, and it is thee who arrives 
and must explain thy coming." 

" There is nothing to explain about us," Margaret 
replied ; " we have been coming and going the past 
seven months or more. We are doing a very common- 
place thing, simply making the grand tour, partly for 
my mother's health, but chiefly, I think, because I was 
growing restless in New Orleans, and this was the 
only relief that offered." I thought there was a little 
wistfulness in Margaret's voice. She did not mean 

213 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



it to be noticed, however, and added brightly, " I 'm 
sure you have a more interesting story to tell. You 
men have so much better chance than we have. 
Mademoiselle de Candolle tells me that you have been 
here for some months." 

We were walking up and down the avenue under 
the poplars. I did not take Margaret to the summer 
house, — her summer house as I always called it in 
my thoughts. I was saving it until later, perhaps 
until I was sure that it belonged to her. 

I told Margaret a little of my life at the Chateau, 
and what I was doing there, omitting, as it seems that 
one usually must, the most important part of the 
story. I had a chance to watch Margaret as we 
walked. I was not at first impressed with the radiant 
beauty of which the American lady had spoken. Mar- 
garet was undoubtedly beautiful, but I had to get 
accustomed to her beauty, and indeed to get acquainted 
with her. The years had made a difference. I had 
been worshiping a child, a little girl with large brown 
eyes, and long, sweet-smelling chestnut curls ; an im- 
pulsive little creature in a blue gown made after the 
sailor fashion. But now, I was talking to a woman, 
and at first her resemblance to my dream-child tanta- 
lized me more than it comforted me. It seemed to 
tell me that Margaret, my first love, was gone, was 
more than dead, and to do it before I was at all sure 
that a second Margaret was coming to take her place. 

As I talked to Margaret I searched her face eagerly, 
and every time I found some familiar feature, some 

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old-time movement, I felt a great heart throb. There 
were the same deep brown eyes, but they seemed 
smaller, now that they were set in the woman's larger 
face. There was the same abundant chestnut hair, 
but it was gathered into a coil and showed less of its 
wayward curliness. It was silly to expect this stately 
young woman to affect simple sailor blouses of blue 
serge, but I could not help being disappointed that 
she did not. In its place she had a brown, tailor-made 
gown, quite irreproachable, I suppose, from a woman's 
point of view, but to a man's uninstructed eyes some- 
what lacking in individuality. I have heard it said 
that women dress to please the men, but this is utter 
nonsense. They dress to please themselves or other 
women, or, for that matter, to please the dressmaker. 
If we men dressed them, I am sure of one thing, they 
would not all dress alike. 

You may think that I was a poor sort of lover to 
be so calmly critical of Margaret, but you must re- 
member that while I was a lover, I was not surely 
hers. 

Our talk, indeed, was far from lover-like. It was 
mainly about Europe and travel, and about Mrs. Rav- 
enel's health, and the outer facts of Hfe. I noticed 
that I fell very naturally into the habit of calling 
Margaret, Miss Ravenel. I had no desire to call her 
Margaret. How could I have, when I was not sure 
that it was the real Margaret ? I was simply a friendly 
gentleman on the easy terms of a former friendship, 
and making himself as agreeable as a not over-kind 

215 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



Nature had made possible. And Margaret was simply 
a well-poised, well-bred girl, willing to charm, if she 
must, but, thank heaven, entirely devoid of coquetry, 
and talking as simply and naturally as Charlotte would 
have done. Margaret was frankly pleased to meet an 
old friend and exchange experiences with him, but as 
far as I could see, that was all. She had apparently 
forgotten that we had been child lovers. 

But I was not always so unmoved. There were 
certain notes in Margaret's voice, and in her laugh 
that sent a thrill through me and carried me back 
with a sweep to the old mansion on St. Charles Street. 
Then, for a moment, I was the hot little lover of 
the old time. And when Margaret smiled, the years 
vanished, and my dream-child stood for an instant be- 
fore me. But the next instant it was Miss Ravenel 
that I saw. 

When the old bell in the south tower rang out for 
dinner, I took Margaret through the archway into the 
courtyard. I was pleased to see her falling under the 
spell of my dear Chateau. " What a perfectly de- 
lightful place it is," she exclaimed, eagerly, " I do not 
wonder that you are enchanted with it. I should like 
to live here always." 

We went first to the drawing-room, where the 
United Kingdom had assembled to meet our new pen- 
sionnaires. I could see at once that England and Ire- 
land were greatly impressed with Margaret's beauty 
and charm. I foresaw that they would be good 
friends, and I was proud of England and Ireland, the 

216 



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dear old ladies. They were worthy representatives of 
their country, if they were all wrong in their politics, 
and they upheld the dignity of the Chateau splendidly. 
Ireland had on one of her old-fashioned silks, and her 
lovely pearls ; and England, in spite of the advancing 
season, carried her black velvet and old lace ^dth 
marked success. Scotland was the only one who be- 
haved badly. She seemed to have fallen back at least 
eight months, and was as contrary and ungracious as 
could be. She had not forgotten, however, to put on 
her best frock. 

Mrs. Kavenel soon joined us. She had changed 
much less than Margaret, and looked much stronger 
than I had expected to see her. It seemed to me that 
she had improved with the years. She still clung to 
her mourning, but her widow's cap had lavender rib- 
bons, which went very well with her white hair, and 
she seemed in every way less absorbed and less selfish 
than I remembered her as a boy. Time and travel 
and Margaret's good influence had had their effect. 
My grandfather Percyfield was always very consid- 
erate of Mrs. Kavenel and would never let Charlotte 
or me say anything uncharitable about her. He al- 
ways maintained that at heart she was a good woman, 
and that if we had had anything Hke the amount of 
trouble that had been her portion, we might not have 
come out of it any better. As I talked with Mrs. 
Kavenel for a few moments before we went into the 
salle a manger^ I recalled all this, and I felt glad, as 
I so often did, to have my gTand father Percyfield's 

217 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



opinions confirmed. Somehow I wished that he and 
my mother could know. 

The Chatelaine meanwhile flew about from room to 
room, making everybody comfortable and happy, and 
delighted herself to have this pleasant addition to our 
company. 

As we gathered around the dinner table, we seemed, 
if anything, rather over-rich in women, but otherwise 
the circle was faultless. It was Mrs. Ravenel who 
noticed the disproportion, as Southern women I think 
are apt to do, and said to the Chatelaine, " I am sorry, 
Mademoiselle de Candolle, to have brought you a 
couple more women. I think a couple of men would 
have been more acceptable." 

Scotland said she thought so, too, which struck me 
as a curiously rude speech, so I hastened to add, 
'' You could not have brought more welcome guests, 
dear Mrs. Ravenel. Had there been any change, I 
could wish that the two men might have come in 
addition, perhaps a barelegged laird for our friend 
from Scotland, and my dear Peyton to keep up the 
American contingent. You notice at present that 
Uncle Sam and John Bull are just balanced." 

But Scotland did not like my pleasantry, and said 
nothing but disagreeable things all the rest of the 
dinner. I wonder if my gentle grandfather Percyfield 
could have stood up for Scotland. I expect so, for 
whatever was wi^ong with Scotland, he would have 
discovered it, but I had not the wit to. 

After dinner we all went back to the drawing-room. 
218 



SUNSHINE 



The Chatelaine made us a cheery fire of twigs and 
branches, and we formed a large circle around the 
hearth. I stationed myseK near Mrs. Eavenel, rather 
from a feeling that it was the proper thing to do, and 
Margaret sat on the other side of the group. I was 
rather glad of this arrangement, for I had the pleasure 
of watching Margaret. 

In these gatherings of ours in the drawing-room of 
the Chateau, we had rather cultivated the habit of 
talking in monologues. In a drawing-room there 
should be but one speaker at a time. A private call 
is the proper occasion for tete-a-tetes. But in a com- 
pany of people, if half talk to the other half, the din 
is terrific, and nothing very much worth while is 
likely to be said. It is a custom which seems to make 
the whole company superfluous save the one person to 
whom you happen to be talking, or, worse stiU, to 
whom you are trying to listen. But if one person 
speaks and all the rest listen, there is comparative 
quiet, and the one speaker is apt to say far better 
things than if he were struggling in the general din 
to make one person hear him. I have noticed 
that deaf persons are usually spared the inanities 
which sometimes pass for conversation, — even the 
originators of the inanities hesitate to shout them. 
When you mean to tell a thing on the housetops, it is 
wise to see to it that the thing is worth telling. Talk- 
ing in monologues demands the same precaution. It 
lifts conversation to a higher level, and makes a man 
bestir himself. He will not say the casual and incon- 

21^ 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



siderate things to a gi^oup of people that he might 
lazily say to one. I had well drilled the Chatelaine 
and the United Kingdom in the theory and practice 
of the monologue. It was the less gracious task, per- 
haps, since I was usually the monologuer. But then, 
as England would say, you must usually pay a price 
for all benefits, must n*t you ? 

The ladies of the Chateau had their reward the 
evening ^largaret came, and indeed many evenings 
thereafter. Margaret had not lost her old dramatic 
sense. Like everything else about her, it was less unre- 
strained, but it was there in full force, possibly even 
heightened. She no longer cared to faint and be 
carried oflp to the Castle of Monaco, but in telling us 
about their travels and adventures, she had the un- 
conscious art of a great actress. Scene after scene 
passed before us, and with such vi\4dness and such 
truth to the life that we were all taken by storm, 
except jx)ssibly Scotland, and I think that even she 
was not entirely unmoved. For myself, I was in the 
seventh heaven of delight. I had all the pleasure of 
the other listeners, and in addition a pleasure they 
could not know of. For me, it was a process of find- 
ing Margaret, of regaining my comrade. For once, 
I was glad to be the humblest of spectators. It mat- 
tered not that I had failed to call out this splendid 
dramatic touch when we were alone in the garden. It 
needed this group of people to do it. My theory of 
the monologue was working splendidly. 

Later, ^largaret went to the piano and played for 
220 



SUNSHINE 



us. She refused to play Chopin, for she said he was 
too emotional. But she played Schumann and a little 
Beethoven. During the playing Scotland got up and 
left the room. I did not know what was the matter, 
but somehow I felt dreadfully sorry for her. Marga- 
ret broke off her playing much sooner than we wanted 
her to, for she declared that it was quite time to 
carry her mother off to bed, and that already the lady 
had been dissipating in sitting up so late. Mrs, 
Eavenel said kindly that it had been a long time since 
they had had so much temptation to dissipate. Then 
the mother and daughter withdrew, leaving in the 
drawino^-room three admirino: women and a bewildered 
man. England and Ireland and the Chatelaine were 
all loud in their praises of my countrywomen, and 
England said graciously that she quite understood why 
I was so proud of being an American. 

We thought we were happy at the Chateau before, 
but after the coming of Margaret and her mother we 
were still happier, not I alone, but all of us, save pos- 
sibly Scotland, who continued to act so strangely that 
I once asked the Chatelaine what conld be the matter 
with her, but she would give me no dhrect answer, and 
said it was kinder not to ask. 

So the spirit of the spring deepened at the Chateau, 
and each day became more lovely. Margaret could 
not have come at a better time. It seemed as if die 
earth had robed herself to meet her, and Margaret 
fell under the enchantment of it. The slight tone of 
wistfidness that I had noticed at our first meeting 

221 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



never reappeared. I could see that Margaret was 
happier than she had been for some time. It is a way 
the Chateau has of making most people happy. I 
once told the Chatelaine that it was all a fable about 
the Chateau's having been built by the duke of Savoy, 
a transparent fable ; that I knew better. It was an 
enchanted castle, and I trembled lest some morning I 
should waken and find there was no such place. 

" And where would you be, then ? " asked the Chat- 
elaine, by way of disproof. 

" In misery," said I, " dark, dank, dismal misery." 

" I think it won't happen," said the Chatelaine, 
cheerily, " but you must make hay while the sun 
shines ; " and she left me to guess her meaning. She 
is a sympathetic soul, is the Chatelaine, and often, 
when she looks at me with those clear, truth-loving 
gray eyes of hers, I fancy that she can read my very 
thoughts. I am very fond of the Chatelaine. 

Outwardly, our life at the Chateau goes on much 
as usual. I seldom see Margaret until luncheon. She 
takes morning coffee with her mother in their rooms, 
and spends the greater part of the morning reading 
to her and waiting on her. When Mrs. Ravenel first 
came to the Chateau she did not rise until just time 
to dress for luncheon, and only then would Margaret 
resign her to the care of Aunt Viney. But Mrs. 
Ravenel has been growing stronger, Margaret and 
I both think, since she has come to Beau-Rivage, 
and now the rising hour is slipping along to eleven, 
and even half past ten. This gives Margaret more 

222 



SUNSHINE 



leisure, but it avails nothing to me, for in the morn- 
ing Margaret will never let me join her. If she walks 
in the garden, or pulls out a bit on the Lake, and I 
spy her from my window, as I am very likely to do, 
since I have dragged my big writing-table over to the 
window for that special piu'pose, I find it very difficult 
not to slip downstairs just for a moment to pass the 
time of day with Margaret. But she sends me back 
to my work at once and will have none of it. 

She is so very severe that once I threatened to 
rebel, but she silenced me completely. She said their 
coming to the Chateau and our meeting had been a 
pure accident, and that if she found she was inter- 
rupting my work, she would whisk her mother and 
herself off in the night, and never let me know so 
much as where they had gone. From previous expe- 
rience with a certain little girl in New Orleans, I half 
suspected that Margaret was capable of it. But I 
liked her the better for it. These little imperious 
ways of Margaret are inconvenient, but I welcomed 
them always, for they seemed to fuse the new Marga- 
ret into the old. I liked, too, the earnestness of it. 
It made me think that one can have a purpose in life 
on the lower Mississippi as weU as on the Delaware. 

But Margaret need not worry about my work. It 
is going on famously. She gave me an immense up- 
lift when she wrote her name in the register at Pom- 
peii, and the impulse is not spent. I think Charlotte, 
the wise one, would notice a difference in my work. I 
wrote her, of course, about the Kavenels' being at the 

223 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Chateau, and what a pleasure it is to have them here. 
But I have not told her of the curious drama that is 
going on in my own heart. Charlotte keeps wi^iting 
for more news about Margaret, how I like her, and if 
I see much of her, and many other leading questions ; 
for Charlotte, hke most happily married people, is bent 
on getting all the rest of us happily married. I am 
afraid that my letters are rather unsatisfactory. At 
least Charlotte says they are, and Charlotte is nothing 
if not frank. 

So I continue to work steadily for three or four 
hours every morning. But in the afternoons it is dif- 
ferent. 

Margaret also has theories, and one of them is that 
short hours of concentrated work are better than a 
whole day's dull grind. So she quite abets my spend- 
ing the afternoons away from the south tower. Very 
often she joins me in an outing. Sometimes she feels 
that she must stop at home with her mother, and then 
you may be sure that I remain also. But Mrs. Rav- 
enel is really the best-behaved old lady, given to in- 
validism, that we have ever had at the Chateau. Made- 
moiselle de Candolle says so. I am afi^aid this kind 
hostess of ours has had a series of curios, and alacka- 
day, they have not all been European. 

Mrs. Ravenel spends nearly every fine afternoon in 
the garden, attended always by the faithful Aunt 
Viney. England and Ireland have got into the way 
of joining her there. It is a pretty sight to see these 
elderly gentlewomen sitting under the great green 

224 



SUNSHINE 



parasol of the sycamore tree or walking slowly up and 
down between the poplars. 

When ilrs. Ravenel is so comfortably provided for, 
Margaret feels free for any outing I may propose. 
She has a delightful streak of adventure in her, and 
sometimes it puzzles me to find an outing quite excit- 
ing enough for her. However, the season itself is 
exciting ; it is so beautiful. Margaret has never seen 
a Swiss summer, and her enthusiasm, added to mine, 
makes a pretty full charge. Sometimes we take the 
tram and go into Geneva to himt for pretty things in 
the shops and to explore the old parts of the city. Once 
we bought some wood carvings at a little shop on the 
rue du Rhone, and the shopwoman offered to make out 
the bill for something less than the amount, so that 
the customs duty at home would be less. It is quite 
a common practice. I thought Margaret would anni- 
hilate the little woman, she was so indignant at the 
suggestion. At such times Margaret's eyes flash fire 
and she is radiantly beautiful. It is not a doll-baby 
sort of beauty, I assure you, but something much more 
fierce and volcanic. 

Occasionally we take the steamboat at the Beau- 
Eivage landing and go over to Xyon or !Morges. Once 
we went up the Dole together. Very frequently we 
are off on our wheels, the Chatelaine along with us. 
Margaret shares the Chatelaine's preference for the 
lower road along the Lake, and so we go often to 
Yvoire, the beautiful, and drink afternoon tea at Ma- 
dame Thonon's little restaurant. The Swiss peasants 

225 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



are rather a stolid people. I do not know whether it 
is their code of manners, or whether the constant pre- 
sence in their beautiful country of such crowds of 
strangers breeds a certain indifference, but I think 
they stare less than any nation that I have acquaint- 
ance with. But they do stare at Margaret. She seems 
to fascinate them. They call her la belle Americaine. 
I think it is not so much her beauty that attracts 
them as a certain grace and her atmosphere of flawless, 
childlike goodness. It is natural for the Chatelaine to 
love Margaret, and for me she has a generous affec- 
tion that I much value. I think she looks upon us 
both almost as her children. She was very fearful at 
first that she might be in the way, and I had some dif- 
ficulty to reassure her. But she never could be in the 
way, and I should be a much more selfish fellow than 
I am if I denied the Chatelaine the frank pleasure 
she takes in Margaret. Indeed, there is no reason 
why she should not go along. Margaret is pleased to 
have me with her. I can readily see that, for she 
takes no pains to disguise it. But it seems to be the 
simple pleasure that any young woman might feel in 
the company of a man of average intelligence, and 
in part of a common past. Perhaps, too, it is a relief 
after the rather dreary round of female pensionnaires. 
Charlotte would not approve of this last remark. 

Several times I have had another horse from the 
village, and with Margaret on the now properly 
behaved Coco we have made some glorious prome- 
nades a cheval. Margaret was delighted to get her 

226 



SUNSHINE 



riding habit out. She said she had not worn it once 
since she had been in Europe. I had hoped that it 
would be blue, but it is dark green. However, it goes 
very well with Coco's gray flanks, and it suits Mar- 
garet quite as well. Margaret enjoys these rides and 
even Coco's latent willfulness. My own chestnut mount 
is nothing to boast of, but he has n't been able to 
throw me yet, so I do not mind. It seems to me, in- 
deed, that each ride is better than the last, and I often 
wonder whether in all Europe there is a man quite so 
lucky as I am. On the whole, I think not. 

But more frequently than anything else, we go to 
walk. We cannot go so far, but there are delightful 
Httle bypaths to explore, and every tramp we find 
some new beauty. In truth, one does not have to 
search for beauty when it is the springtime in Swit- 
zerland, and now that June has come, we have the 
more mature beauty of the early summer. There is 
less physical exultation in these walks than when we 
go on the saddle or in the saddle, — by which I mean 
a- wheeling or a-horseback riding, — but on the whole 
I enjoy them more. The talk is more connected. I 
get nearer to Margaret, and I am coming to know her 
better. We speak often of the child days at New 
Orleans. It gives me a thrill to find that Margaret 
dwells on them as lovingly as I do. The tears came 
to her eyes when I told her that my mother and my 
grandfather Percyfield were no longer at Uplands. 
She evidently keeps a warm spot for them in her heart, 
as she well may, for they loved her sincerely. And 

227 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Margaret has mucli to tell me of our old playfellows, 
Randolph and Peyton. They have turned out, she 
says, much as one might have expected. Randolph is 
a practical, hard-headed fellow, who manages the 
Belle vue plantation with great ability. He has mar- 
ried one of the younger Mason girls. And Peyton ? 
Margaret says he is as beautiful as my Endymion, a 
dreamy fellow whom everybody loves, and whom every- 
body treats precisely as if he were a boy. Randolph, 
it seems, is considered the successful one, but he is 
not so much loved as Peyton. For one thing he is so 
busy ; he has no time. But Peyton seems to have all 
the time there is. He has never married. The idea 
of liis marrying amuses Margaret, for she evidently 
looks upon him as a mere boy. She says he has never 
done any special thing, but she believes he will some 
day, for he has qualities which no one else seems to 
possess. He writes verses, he paints a little, he plays 
and sings very sweetly, — in a word, he is an ideal com- 
rade. Margaret speaks of him with enthusiasm, and 
I am not one whit jealous. I know that he is made 
of finer clay than ever I was, and that I can never 
hope to equal him, at least in this life. It has aroused 
all my old love for Peyton to have Margaret speak 
of him in this enthusiastic way. Could we have met 
him this afternoon in the beautiful wood path beyond 
Madame du Chene's, where we happened to be walk- 
ing when Margaret told me about him, I know I 
should have put my arms around him the way the 
burly Germans do — yes, and kissed him on both cheeks 

228 



SUNSfflNE 



as they do, too, and called him ' little brother.' Mar- 
garet made Peyton seem so real to me that I shall 
never again be able to see a narrow alley through the 
greenery without thinking of him ; only it must have 
a clear blue sky end to it, or it would not stand for 
Peyton. 

To be beautiful and good, to have all the world love 
you, what more could one ask of the gods. It is a 
poem, a picture, a symphony in itself. 

We have spoken, too, about Charlotte, and it is 
pretty to see Margaret's affection rekindling as I go 
on to tell her at some length about this best of good 
sisters. And Margaret made me tell her about Fred- 
eric, and as much as possible about the little son that 
I have never seen. She was vastly interested, and set 
to work at once to make a pretty Kttle jacket for the 
small boy. She had it sent off with a couple of gold 
pins before I supposed it could be well under way. I 
did not tell Margaret, but I happen to know that if 
this morsel of humanity should wear all his stick pins 
at once, he would resemble an animated pincushion. 
For a time, Charlotte used to begin her letters to me 
in this wise, — " To-day, the twenty-seventh came," — 
and I always knew it referred to gold pins for the 
baby. 

And now you may well be wondering what was 
going on in my own heart. Well, in truth, a great 
deal was happening, but, as usual, it was the unex- 
pected. Every day I found in Miss Ravenel some 
charming reminder of the little Margaret, and I had 

229 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



so many sudden heart throbs that I was Kke to set 
up a chronic palpitation. But I was not finding the 
ideal woman into which in my own thought the little 
Margaret had been growing. I was coming to learn, 
though, that when a man sets to work to create an 
ideal woman, he makes a pretty sad mess of it. It is 
not so simple an undertaking for us mortal men as was 
the process in Eden. And then after we get them 
created, if we had to marry them, I fancy we should 
be greatly bored and have a pretty miserable time of 
it generally. 

The truth is that the real Margaret is a revelation 
to me. If I ask myself whether I love her or not, I can 
hardly say, for more than anything else I am bewil- 
dered. I know very well that I admire her. I know 
that I like to be with her better than with any one I 
have ever seen before, but she takes my breath away. 
Her whole nature is so much richer and fuller and 
more resourceful than the shadow woman that I have 
been living with, that I have to readjust myself. The 
shadow woman begins to seem like a dreadful prig, a 
bundle of abstract qualities, with the exquisite tender- 
ness, the graciousness and charm that characterize red- 
blooded women all left out. And when you begin to 
suspect your idol of priggishness, you may know that 
it is soon about to be shattered, for of all the counter- 
feits of virtue, priggishness seems to me about the 
cheapest. As the weeks of this enchanted spring- 
time and early summer go flying past, I confess that 
my poor idol is being completely shattered, >and in the 

230 



SUNSHINE 



garden of the heart, I dislike to come across even a 
fragment of it. Margaret has done this for me, — 
she has rescued me from being a doctrinaire in the 
matters of the heart. And that is really what is the 
matter with all old bachelors and sonneteers. They 
are feo busy with their silly theorizing, they have n't 
any time to really love. The solid ground that re- 
mains to me is that I did love the little Margaret 
with the knightly passion of boyhood, more tender and 
more lasting, I think, than it is given to most boys to 
love, and that in the present Margaret I have a woman 
whom I neither love nor do not love. 

In this way it has come about that the longer Mar- 
garet stops at the Chateau, the simpler and sweeter 
our intercourse becomes. There are no more scenes 
like that at the treUis when Margaret first came to the 
Chateau. In everything that she resembles the little 
Margaret, I love her, and in everything that she does 
not, I have to get acquainted with her. She is charm- 
ingly frank, even boyish, as we come to know each 
other better. If she happens to be in the garden of 
a morning, and sees me at my work before I spy her, 
— which does not happen to her very often, — she 
calls up to me in her sweet contralto, " Good-morning, 
Mr. Scribbler. The top of the morning to you, since 
you are up so high," and I caU back to her, " Good- 
morning, Wood Sprite. It is you who keep me here. 
I 'm dreadfully afraid I shall fall." *' You 'd better 
not," she cries, warningly ; " you know what will 
happen to you. You '11 be sent right back." Then 

231 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



she moves away so that the work may go on undis- 
turbed. 

I have noticed that dark eyes in women very often 
go with contralto voices, and blue eyes with the soprano. 
I should not want to fancy Margaret with any other 
voice than just her own. Some of her notes are as 
rich and deep as a tenor's, and when she calls up to 
my tower, she falls quite naturally into the way of 
singing. She can yodel to perfection. I think this 
is another reason why the peasants like her. 

As the weather grows warmer, Margaret has laid 
aside her conventional tailor-made gowns, and appears 
more and more in the simple white things that I love, 
— dimity, I think you call them ; it sounds pretty at 
any rate. They make her look more girlish, more 
Southern, and anything that does this gives me an 
additional heart throb. 

We have our windows open constantly now. One 
morning I heard Mrs. Ravenel whistle. It was the 
old aria, and meant " Margaret, come here." I listened 
breathlessly for the answer. It came, an octave higher, 
that second aria, " Yes, mother, I am coming." I am 
a foolish fellow, but I did no more work that morning. 
I was building bridges into the past. 

These are rare days at the Chateau de Beau-Rivage 
and I think we are all of us the better for them. The 
rest, the simple country life, the happiness, are all do- 
mg Margaret a world of good. She fairly blossoms 
with all the other sweet things this marvelous spring. 
I can understand now why the American lady called 

232 



SUNSHINE 



Margaret radiantly beautiful. I am finding her so, 
too. And it seems to me that Margaret shows each 
day some new suggestion of her old self, of the little 
Margaret that I love. It may be that unconsciously 
I am watching for these signs, or perhaps changes are 
taking place in Margaret, now that she is less worried 
about her mother. I think that many of these little 
things would have seemed to me, as indeed they are, 
nothing but trifles and would have passed quite un- 
noticed, if it were not for that curiously persistent 
character of my mental images which I have already 
mentioned. For the life of me I cannot help seeing 
the little Margaret, and I cannot help feeling perfectly 
delighted whenever the newer images coincide with the 
old ones. It was quite in line with these foolish 
fancies that I had the greatest desire to see Margaret 
with her hair down and dressed in a blue sailor gown. 
The thought kept bothering me all one morning until 
I was entirely vexed with myself for being so stupidly 
given to details. At luncheon, as if in answer to my 
thought, Margaret appeared with her hair down her 
back, a little wet and straggly, to be sure, but the same 
abundant chestnut curls and giving out the same sweet 
odor. It seems that Margaret and the Chatelaine had 
been in the Lake to bathe, the first phmge of the 
season, and to satisfy Mrs. Eavenel, Margaret had 
left her hair down until it should dry. She apolo- 
gized very prettily for it. Then I had a sudden in- 
spiration. 

" The Lake has wet your hair in this thorough 
233 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



fashion," said I, " it ought to be good enough to dry- 
it for you. Let us go out in the boat directly after 
luncheon, and paddle around in the sun until your 
hair is quite dry." 

Mrs. Ravenel much approved of so hygienic a plan 
and thanked me for it so genuinely that I was a bit 
ashamed to think that the plan had not a grain of al- 
truism in it. Partly to please her mother, and partly 
because the prospect of having the wind sweep through 
her hair seemed agreeable, Margaret willingly fell in 
with the plan and went off to get ready. Then I had a 
second inspiration. I suggested that if she had a boat- 
ing suit, she had better put it on, and added half 
jestingly that I should myself prefer blue to match the 
Lake and the sky, — it was a perfect day, and the Lake 
carried all shades of blue and turquoise, while the sky 
was a somewhat lighter tint. It was such an improb- 
able hazard that I expected nothing to come of it, but 
I was mistaken. A few moments later Margaret ap- 
peared on our little quay. She had on a blue serge 
gown made with a sailor waist, and her long chestnut 
curls swept her shoulders. The illusion was complete. 
It was no longer Switzerland, but New Orleans. 
Better still, it was no longer Miss Ravenel, but the 
little Margaret, whom I seemed to be rowing about in 
the sunshine. I don't wonder that Fletcher Mason 
wanted to kiss her. As the wind tossed Margaret's 
curls about, and the sun brought out the golden gleam 
in them, they formed just such an aureole about the 
oval face, with its high cheek bones and sparkling 

234 



SUNSHINE 



brown eyes, as I had often seen in our play at Here- 
ford Hall. The face was just as resolute, just as im- 
perious, but there was something more in it, an element 
that baffled me. You have the best chance in the 
world to study a face when you are in a small row- 
boat. It is natural to look straight ahead and this 
brings the stern seat directly into the foreground. I 
could not quite make out this new element in Mar- 
garet's face. It may have been an added tenderness, 
the touch of sorrow, for she has been much worried 
about her mother. Perhaps some other feelings are 
wakening in her soul. At any rate, she was very 
beautiful. It seemed to me that I was a boy again. 
It was natural for us to talk of New Orleans. I asked 
if she remembered our acting and the Castle of Mo- 
naco. 

" Of course I do," she answered. " It was great 
fun, was n't it ? Mother and I went to the real Castle 
last winter, and I could n't help thinking of the dining- 
room at dear old Arlington, all the time. I doubt 
if any little prince had as good a time as we did. Did 
you go to Monaco when you were on the Riviera? " 

" Yes," I said, " I went there on purpose. I had 
hoped to find you there." 

" Well, if you had come at the right time," Mar- 
garet answered, in that impartial way she has of turn- 
ing the talk into less personal channels, " you might 
have taken mother and me through the Castle. But 
it seems, you did n't." 

Now, she was just a trifle mischievous, quite as the 
235 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



little Margaret might have been. But I was bent on 
reminiscing, and as I went on I grew rather bolder. 
" Do you remember," said I, " how I always told you 
I was going to marry you ? " 

Margaret answered with apparent unconcern, "And 
do you recall how I always said I would n't ? But we 
had a good time, even if you were a dreadful tease. 
Do tell me more about Charlotte. I 'd much rather 
have you talk about her than about yourself. Does 
she still call you ' kin,' and does she live out at Up- 
lands ? " And quite whether I would or not, the 
talk glided into wider channels and it came time to 
go in. 

We found Mrs. Eavenel in the garden, and I de- 
voted myself to her while Margaret went to dress. 

" Miss Ravenel tells me that you were at Monaco 
last winter," I said, by way of making conversation. 

" Yes," answered Mrs. Kavenel, " Margaret would 
go there for the sake of old times. I think you had 
such a castle in your play, did you not ? It is a very 
picturesque place. And we went on, of course, to 
Monte Carlo. But neither Margaret nor I cared to 
go into the Casino. It is a dreadful place, is it not? 
The gardens are very beautiful. I think I enjoyed 
the day there as much as any place we visited in Eu- 
rope. We drove over from Nice." Mrs. Ravenel 
always spoke about Europe as if she were not in it, 
but had only been here and had got back to America. 
She went on talking pleasantly about their travels. 

But I was a dull companion. What I was thinking 
236 



SUNSHINE 



about all the time was tliis, that Margaret, like my- 
self, had gone to Monaco on puipose to recall old days. 
It might have been a mere caprice, or it might have 
been from a deeper feeling. I kept wondering which 
it could be. But it was useless to try to fathom 
Margaret, when I could not fathom myself, for even 
then, had I asked myself whether I loved this beauti- 
ful countrywoman of mine, I coidd not have said. In 
the boat, there had been no mistake about it. I had 
loved her with my whole heart. But we were for the 
moment both children again. I coidd not say, now 
that we had come back to the present, how it was. It 
is one thing to admire a woman and quite another 
tiling to love her. I shoidd be sorry to love a woman 
whom I did not admire, for I should feel that the love 
was quite unworthy and must be put aside at whatever 
cost. But it would be just as sad a mistake to take 
admiration or fancy or any other sentiment whatever, 
for love. We can admire many people, fancy them, 
if you please, or even love them in a certain friendly 
way, but the gi*and passion, the love that either makes 
or mars one's life, that takes possession of one's very 
being, that makes one hot or cold, strong or weak, 
tempest or calm, that makes a London fog a paradise, 
or the Kiviera a desert, this comes but once. It is a 
tremendous experience. God help the man or woman 
who gets a counterfeit. 

My young friend, the artist, is always falling in love. 
At least he says he is. And the affair lasts sometimes 
as much as six months. The average is considerably 

237 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



shorter than that. When I see him, I say to him, 
" Is it on or off? " and the answer is as likely to be 
one thing as the other. Or, sometimes, I say to him, 

" And at present, the name is ? " or I threaten to 

buy him an alphabetical list of Christian names. And 
the droll part is that he keeps a journal and puts down 
all these experiences. He sends it to me from time 
to time to read. But we two are the only ones who 
ever see it, so you must not think there is any sac- 
rilege. It is a dainty record, very sweet and whole- 
some, a series of little pastorals, like a morning in 
May, — but it is not love. What the artist loves is 
not these " dainty rogues in porcelain," as I caU them, 
mimicking for the once the obscure Mr. Meredith, 
but the pretty idea of love. Sometimes I add a 
paragraph to the journal, and I am apt to say some- 
thing like this, " Love and Fancy are twin sisters ; a 
man must be careful not to mistake one for the other. 
The one leads to supreme happiness, the other to 
misery ; " or else I write, '' Do I love my love, or do I 
love the thought of being loved ? " and let the pretty 
words go for what they are worth. But they apply, 
I think, more to women than to men. I fear me that 
women more often fall in love with the idea of being 
loved than with the man who loves them. We naturally 
do not hear as distinctly of refusals as we do of en- 
gagements, for a rejected lover is not apt to speak 
of the matter. There seem, however, to be more aa. 
ceptances than refusals. When you consider that a 
woman's choice is limited to those who offer, I am left 

238 



SUNSHINE 



between two opinions, either that women are very 
tender-hearted, or else that they love to be loved and 
are under an illusion. To be sure we once had a famous 
belle in Philadelphia, who married the hundredth man 
who proposed to her, and I believe did n't hit it off so 
very well either. She used to come -out to Uplands 
sometimes when I was a boy, and Charlotte and I al- 
ways stood in great awe of her, for she brought her 
maid and never took any breakfast. But one would 
not think of taking such a career seriously. 

The artist is a sunny youngster, and when I say 
these things, he laughs and tells me I 'm a crooked 
old bachelor, and don't know anything about the mat- 
ter. I think there ought to be a limit to that term, 
an old bachelor, and one ought not to be so called 
until one is at least thirty. 



239 



CHAPTER IX 
INDOORS 

You must not think that it was all sunshine at 
the Chateau this spring, — I mean literal sunshine. 
There were bits of nasty weather, rain and cold and 
wind, that made me think of the coming of spring in 
New England, a process which even the Boston people 
admit not to be entirely satisfactory. But there was 
sunshine indoors the whole time. In fact it is always 
sunshine where the dear Chatelaine is. She is cheery 
and bright, the brave little woman, whatever the 
weather or circumstance. The United Kingdom also, 
can ever be relied upon to have all flags flying, and of 
late even Scotland has come out of her trying humor, 
and is as weU behaved as she knows how to be. When 
to this regular group you add Margaret, with her splen- 
did beauty and high spirits and good health, and Mrs. 
Ravenel, with that later gentleness which always 
touches me so deeply, you will admit that we have very 
good society. 

When I wrote to Charlotte, my letters were so bub- 
bling over with happiness that they seemed fairly 
boastful. Had I been superstitious, I should always 
have touched wood in ending them, lest the gods be 
jealous and make the days less sunny. But this must 

240 



INDOORS 



not be taken quite seriously, for I believe in happi- 
ness, and hold that it is a great pity that we do not 
have more of it. It is a quality you can cultivate. 
On the whole, I think it is more useful than mathe- 
matics, but this you must remember is the opinion of 
a man who never keeps accounts, and has not tasted 
the spiritual joy of having them come out to a penny 
at the end of the week or the fortnight. 

It is a splendid thing to be young and strong and 
free, splendid to own the whole of your day, and to feel 
that no one else commands it, save as you give your 
moral assent to their demands. I have ever felt sorry 
for the men who take positions, greedy either of the 
honor or of the salary, for it is a dreadful thing to sell 
your time, your life, — a modern version of the world- 
old tragedy of slavery. I know all the plausibilities 
that surround the modern version ; how it is held to be 
useful, and unselfish, and a great opportunity, and 
quite the thing to do, and aH the rest of it, and I do 
not believe them. One must be a man first and last 
and always. 

After aU, how much depends on our ideas. The 
practical Charlotte teUs me that I have more taste 
than talent, but tragic as that is, one need not be 
down-hearted about it. There have been times, I con- 
fess, when I wrote gloomy verses about life's limita- 
tions, and when I had rather disgruntled moments 
with myself, in spite of my grandfather Percj^eld's 
brave teaching. But truly I have given that all up. 
I am taking myself as I am, and such as it is, trying 

241 



eTOIIN rp:RCYFIELD 



to make the most of it. I cOni not clever and beauti- 
ful, like Peyton ; or quick-witted, like Charlotte ; or 
resourceful, like Margaret ; and I used to take it hard 
that I was none of these things. But God, in his gi-eat 
goodness, granted me this boon, the idea of the splen- 
dor of life, and when I try to live up to that, it is 
sunshine always. 

Since Margaret has come to the Chateau there 
have been moments when it seemed to me that I have 
more than my share of the happiness of life. The 
Puritan blood in me that comes from my grandfather 
Marston made me feel a little guilty at finding life so 
sweet. It is a curious tendency. And all the time 
there was a sort of double consciousness. I knew per- 
fectly well in my heart that happiness is not a pension 
fund to be dealt out in driblets to widows and orphans, 
but a magnificent contagion. The more you have of 
it, the more you may have. It is very catching. In 
this spirit I set about making myself agreeable to the 
United Kingdom, and being additionally considerate 
of poor Mrs. Ravenel, who is really more of an invalid 
than I had thought. With Margaret and the Chate- 
laine, I am simply my happy self, and after all, that 
is the highest compliment you can pay a body. 

Then, in addition to the good company, we have the 
Chateau, and this is a delight in aU sorts and condi- 
tions of weather. In the tremendous garret over the 
main building of the Chateau we have set up a tennis 
court. The garret is paved with red tile, and a few 
chalk lines turned it into a respectable court. Mar- 

242 



rS'DOOES 



garet, the Chatelaine, Seotkuid, and I made a good 
four, while England and Ireland were enthninastir on- 
lookers. I oonld never get England to initjatfr lier 
new racket, and GnaUj b^an to tannt her widi bang 
rheomatic and not wanting to show it, but she 
promptly displayed an iron ring whidi she had boog^ 
in Germany, and whieli she assored me was a poative 
warder-off of any such Tisitatimi. England is prone 
to take all remarks seriously, eren tbe remarks ol 
Tenders of iron rings. Margaret and Scotland nsual^ 
played together, and the Chatriaine and I had to do 
oar best, if we wanted to beat tiiem. Margaret cTer 
had ready tact. She divined that Seotland, for some 
reason, did not take to her, and this sdiRTOe of |daying 
together did more to win Scotland OTer than anything 
Margaret could have done. I should have preferred 
to play with ^largaret, for, as I have said, it gives you 
snch a chummy feeling to be on the same side, but 
this other arrangranent had the advantage that I eoold 
watch Margaret. It was almost as good as rowing 
her on the Lake. 

Sometimes on rainy days Margaret and I used to 
go to the north tower, to the voy top floor, and bang 
out of the window on the sheltered side to see if we 
could catch a gbmpse ot Mont !Kanc. Usually it 
was hidden with the rest df the world in a mantle of 
fog or rain. But scnnetimes, throu^ the brouUlard^ 
when the sun was shfnfng on the topmost snow, we 
would get a curious glow that seemed like a spedbal 
mountain. I remember the same effect at Taooma in 

243 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



looking at Mount Rainier. One could walk along 
the streets and glance in the direction of the great 
mountain without seeing a sign of it, only the low, 
scrubby hills that surround Puget Sound, and beyond 
them a purplish gray haze that seemed to bespeak 
unending space. In a few moments, if one looked 
again, the tremendous white cone of Rainier rose 
above the haze like the ghost of a mountain, or like 
a projection from some giant magic lantern on the 
curtain of the sky. The effect was absolutely star- 
tling. 

I liked to be with Margaret in that old north tower. 
It has a double window. Margaret would take pos- 
session of one, and I of the other. I liked to feel that 
she was so near. Leaning on the window sill, with our 
heads out of the window and under the projecting dor- 
mer, we could talk together quite as if we had been 
out in space somewhere and had taken only our heads 
along with us. We could look down on the chimney 
pots and the tiled roof of the north wing of the Cha- 
teau, the wing that shelters Monsieur Coco. And that 
roof is well worth gazing upon. It is all shades of 
dull yellow and brown and brick-red, with here and 
there the bright green of some dainty moss, or the 
vivid yellow of a little lichen. I quite lost my heart 
to it the very first time the Chatelaine showed it to 
me, and decided then and there that when I come to 
build my house in America, I shaU have just such a 
tiled roof. I was speaking about it one day to Mar- 
garet, and she said in great surprise, — 

244 



INDOORS 



" Are you going to build a house ? Shall you not 
be living at Uplands ? " 

" ' Yes ' to one part of your question, and ' No ' to 
the other," I answered. " Uplands belongs to my aunt 
Percyfield, you know, during her lifetime. It is my 
home now, of course ; but when I marry, I shall want 
a place all to Madame and myself." 

" But what will you do with Uplands ? " asked 
Margaret. "I cannot think of you as living any- 
where else." 

"I should hardly want to live there, and feel that 
my aunt Percyfield was in the way, as she surely would 
be, for she is not an agreeable old gentlewoman, you 
know." 

" I think you once intimated as much," said Mar- 
garet, laughing. 

" I should rather hate myself, too, to feel that I was 
waiting for dead men's shoes," I continued. " I want 
my aunt Percyfield to live a long, long time, — until 
she gets a deal better prepared for heaven than she is 
now," I added under my breath, but Margaret heard 
me and laughed in spite of her disapproval. — " And 
then when my aunt Percyfield does reach a saintly old 
age and is gathered to her fathers, I want Charlotte 
to have Uplands. She is not so much interested in 
architecture as I am, and would find it harder to build 
a place. Besides, she loves Uplands as much as I do, 
or nearly as much." 

" You seem to have thought it all out," said Mar- 
garet. " Suppose that Madame objects ? " 

245 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



" But she won't," I answered gaj^ly. 

" How do you know ? " persisted Margaret. 

" Well, for one thing, we shall love each other so 
much that it won't make a rap's difference to either of 
us where we are, provided it 's beautiful and whole- 
some. Of course we should n't want to have colds in 
our heads or get malaria, for that would be most inar- 
tistic." 

" You are an incorrigible dreamer," laughed Mar- 
garet. "But don't be too sure about Madame. You'd 
better have your place near the station so that she can 
go into town easily in case she gets bored or wants a 
new gown." 

"There would be no one to bore her." 

" That in itself might be the trouble, and you can't 
deny the necessity of the new gowns," said Margaret. 

" Beauty unadorned, you know." 

" Whipped cream and angel cake, with poetry for 
dessert," said Margaret, ironically ; " but pray where 
is this Eden to be?" 

" In some part of our beautiful Chester Valley, I 
hope, and within easy driving distance of Uplands." 

" So that you can at least go and see your aunt 
Percyfield," suggested Margaret, mischievously. 

" No ; so that she can come and see us." 

"And get converted, I suppose," added Margaret. 

" Precisely." 

" Shall you build a chateau? " 

" Perhaps. I 've thought of it, since I 've come to 
love this one so much. Do you know that with just a 

246 



INDOORS 



little altering of the plan this would make a splendid 
country house in America." 

" Shall you call it the ' Chateau de Beau-Rivage ' ?" 

'' Hardly. That would be as bad as some of the 
names down at Bryn Mawr. We Ve no water in the 
Chester Valley, you know, save the little Valley Creek. 
I had thought of the ' Chateau de Monrepos.' What 
do you think of that for a name ? " 

" It 's pretty enough," said Margaret, " but it sounds 
lazy for so active a man as you." 

" Not a bit of it. It would be a protest against our 
American rush, a place for artists and musicians and 
writers to come for a time and catch their breath, for 
all my friends, indeed, who care for life more than for 
what they call ' business.' " 

" Peyton, for instance ? " 

"Yes, Peyton of all people. A sort of artistic 
court, you know, with Madame as the gracious host- 
ess. 

" It sounds like ' The Princess,' with men at last 
admitted," said Margaret. " Did you think out the 
name, or did you borrow it ? " 

" I cribbed it straight and square from Carmen 
Sylva. It was the name of her home near Neuwied." 

" I remember. And do you care for her ? " 

"Very much." 

" But you never met any one like her, did you ? " 

" Yes. I think you are like her." 

" That 's rather a bald compliment," said Margaret ; 
and ^;hen after a moment's pause, she added, " But, 

247 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



tell me, how could you ever reconcile yourself to live 
in a chateau when your neighbors had nothing but 
little wooden houses ? I thought you were too much 
of a social democrat for that." 

" You 're laughing at me." 

" No, I 'm serious. And to name your chateau 
after the home of even a hard-working queen would 
shock your socialist friends." 

" Yes, I 've thought of that. It seemed to me, 
though, that a court such as I want to establish, or 
rather such a court as I shall establish — for Madame 
is to be so clever that all things will be possible to 
her — such a court might help on democracy and inter- 
nationalism. It would be the great object in estab- 
lishing it. The ideas I stand for want to be lived out 
generously and splendidly, by clever people, not merely 
talked about in ugly little lecture halls in town." 

" That 's perfectly true," said Margaret, " but you 
must be careful not to frighten your neighbors with 
too big ideas all at once. You would hate your cha- 
teau if you found it was a barrier between you and 
the people you wanted to reach, — just your plain, 
everyday neighbors." 

" Of course I should. I am only toying with the 
idea of a chateau. In the end I shall probably build 
a story-and-a-half house, pretty, though, and low and 
rambling, and be content to call it ' Marston Grange.' " 

" You might be just a little more aristocratic than 
that," said Margaret. " It 's such a wide jump from 
a chateau to a grange. CaU it ' Marston Manor.' " 

248 



INDOORS 



" The ' Manor ' might shut out the neighbors." 

" Not if the living-room were on the ground floor, 
and the front door stood wide open, and Madame be so 
beautiful and so clever as you say she is to be." 

" When I think of Madame, I am inclined to name 
it the ' Castle of Monaco.' " 

" That would be a stupid name," said Margaret in 
the most matter-of-fact way. " You 'd better show 
some respect to your remote ancestors and call it 
* Hereford Hall.' But whatever you call it, I think 
you are quite right about the tiled roof. It will 
take you some time, though, to get one as pretty as 
this." 

" No, indeed, it won't. I shall be as resourceful as 
the Count of Monte Cristo. I shall send to the De- 
partment of Agriculture and get some spores of bright 
green moss and vivid yellow lichen, and having de- 
posited them with a little earth on my tiled roof, I 
shall have Pompey play the hose on them every day. 
We might gather such a look of respectable antiquity 
about us that even Professor Norton would be inclined 
to spare us in the general demohtion of the ugly which 
he hopes some day to inaugurate." 

" What a mixture of earnestness and nonsense you 
are, anyway," laughed Margaret. 

I had no chance to give her any further evidence on 
this point, however, for just then we heard Mrs. 
Ravenel's whistle, and Margaret's little aria, an octave 
higher, rang out, ^'Yes, mother, I am coming," and 
it was good-by for that afternoon. 

249 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Then the drawing-room is a great resoui^ce in stormy 
weather. It is so big that we never felt ourselves 
prisoners. We could look out on the dripping orchard^ 
or from the large west window could watch the Lake, 
and see how it and the Juras opposite were taking the 
rain. Margaret used to play and sing most obligingly, 
sometimes for hours together, and I could never get 
enough of it. At times I almost wished that it might 
rain forever, and nothing happen to interrupt the happy 
days we were having. 

There is a big closet opening out of a corner of 
the drawing-room. In fact, it is a small room, only 
it has no window in it. The closet is filled with 
books, in French, for the most part, but also in Eng- 
lish, and a few in German. 

We read a number of the English books aloud, 
Margaret and I taking turns in reading, while Mrs. 
Ravenel and the others listened. Margaret read so 
much better than I did, that sometimes, after they had 
all gone to bed, and left me to my scales and etudes, 
I used to practice reading aloud. I tried to put into 
my own reading some of the dramatic force that made 
Margaret's reading so charming. I did not have the 
kind Mademoiselle Werner's thought to help me, but 
I think I made some progress. 

When Margaret and I were left to ourselves we 
used to read French, sometimes looking over the same 
book, and sometimes taking turns in reading aloud. 
We chose French in order to get the different point 
of view, and also for the fine practice it gave us. My 

250 



IXDOORS 



own French is somewhat better than ^Margaret's, for 
my mother taught me so carefully when I was a boy. 
It was at Margaret's suggestion that we read the life 
of Carmen Sylva, She said laughingly that she 
wanted to see a picture of herself, but I quite declined 
to call it a picture, and said that they simply had 
genius in common. I had read the book before, but 
when I came to the death of the little Princess Marie 
I could not go on, it is so dreadf idly sad. I tried very 
hard to swallow the limip in my throat, but it was no 
use. It was a little difficult, too, to see the words. I 
looked over at Margaret. Her own eyes were full of 
tears. Without saying anything, she reached over 
and took one side of the book, and we read it together 
silently. At the end of the chapter, Margaret went 
over to the piano and played for a time very softly 
and sweetly. 

In the evenins^, the whole Chateau usuallv rath- 
ered in the drawino^-room, — that is, Marraret and 
Mrs. Kavenel, the United Kingdom, and the Chate- 
laine, and myself. With my democratic ideas I should 
like to have had the servants, too. Of all of us, they 
seemed the most to need this glimpse into an ideal 
world. But it would have shocked ]Mrs. Ravenel and 
the imperialists, and, furthermore, the Chatelaine said 
it was regrettable, but doubtless it would bore the ser- 
vants themselves. I told her that Air. and Mrs. 
Emerson had once tried having their servant eat with 
them, and that they coidd stand it, but the servant 
could n*t. " It is a story with both a funny and a 

251 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



tragic side, is it not?" said the Chatelaine, and I 
liked her comment immensely. However, I often 
managed to smuggle Aunt Viney into the drawing- 
room under pretense of having her in attendance on 
Mrs. Ravenel. 

When I build the Chateau de Monrepos, or Here- 
ford HaU, or Marston Manor, or whatever my coun- 
try house shall eventually be called, I mean to carry 
out this democratic purpose, and have the servants 
genuinely share in the spiritual life of the mansion. 
It seems to me a dreadful thing that we people who 
pride ourselves on being the flower of the human 
family should create about us such a brutal lot as 
the typical servants of the upper-class world. The 
servants in England are a particularly ghastly lot. 
The admitted ideal is to have them as wooden, as 
nearly automatic, as possible. The Germans are 
ahead of us Anglo-Saxons in that respect. They may 
be clumsy in their language, and put all their verbs 
into the second volume, but they have human relations 
with their servants. When Charlotte and I went from 
Ziirich to London, we stopped for a time in Portland 
Square. The first morning, as I came down to break- 
fast, I saw a decent-looking woman sweeping the 
stairs. I said " Good-morning," as I always do at 
home. The woman looked at me in amazement, as if 
she had never, in the whole course of her genteel life, 
met such a manifest case of ill-breeding. I meant at 
first to stand out against that sort of thing, but in the 
end the environment won. After a few days, if an 

252 



INDOORS 



English servant spoke to me, except, of course, to say 
" Thank you," in precisely the way talking dolls say 
" Mamma, Papa," I was as much astonished as if the 
piano had gently remarked, " Why don't you i&x your 
hair?" 

It was stiU too chilly for the elderly ladies to be in 
the garden after dark, even in the fairest of weather, 
so these evenings in the drawing-room became an 
established feature of our life at the Chateau. They 
did not lack variety. Everybody contributed some- 
thing. The Chatelaine gave us the history of the 
Chateau, and many unwritten chapters of Genevois 
life. England and Ireland supplied anecdotes about 
the peasantry and the nobility. They seemed to be 
utterly ignorant of the great middle class of my 
dear Matthew Arnold. Even Scotland, to our sur- 
prise, gave us some Highland ballads, and recited 
them admirably. Aunt Viney sang us plantation 
melodies in a low falsetto voice, and occasionally the 
sweet revival hymns of the jubilee singers. 

The United Kingdom like my American stories, 
and so does Mrs. Kavenel, for, as I have said, she 
never speaks of Europe as if she were reaUy here, but 
always as if she were back in America. '' Can't you 
tell us something about the South ? " she asked. 

" Oh, yes," I said ; " I had no end of adventures 
when I was geologizing in Kentucky." 

" Not in Bourbon County, I hope," said Mrs. Rav- 
enel, smiling. 

" No, indeed, it was farther east, where they prefer 
253 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



not to pay any tax to Uncle Sam. It was in the moon- 
shine counties along the Virginia border." 

" Now, you 're talking American, and I don't under- 
stand a word of it," interrupted England. 

" Then I 'U translate," said I, good-naturedly. " You 
must know that at home we have a federal tax on 
whiskey — called most appropriately internal revenue 
— and every distillery must be licensed by the central 
government. But up in the mountains of Kentucky, 
the doctrine of states' rights is very strong, and the 
people, even some of the best citizens, object to pay- 
ing a federal tax. So they do their distiUing secretly, 
usually of moonlight nights, and that 's the way they 
get the name of moonshiners." 

" You let them off rather gently," murmured Mrs. 
Kavenel. 

" You 're a very remarkable people," said England, 
who showed the fighting blood in her by being ex- 
tremely fond of adventures, "just tell us all about 
it." She settled herself back in her armchair as if 
she expected me to talk for at least an hour. Perhaps 
the movement was prompted by experience. 

" Well," said I, " to make a long story short " — 

" No, make it long," said England emphatically. 

So I began again. " Well, to make a short story 
long, directly after graduation I went out to Ken- 
tucky to make a geological report on some two hun- 
dred thousand acres of coal land owned by a couple 
of Philadelphia gentlemen," — 

" That would be one hundred thousand acres apiece," 
254 



INDOORS 



said Scotland, whose mathematical proclivities I have 
already remarked. 

— "I was armed with a sheepskin, a geological ham- 
mer, a compass, a notebook, a lead pencil, and a pro- 
found amount of ignorance " — 

" Omit the obvious parts," suggested Margaret. 

— " The land was distributed all over the moun- 
tains in tracts varying from forty or fifty acres up to 
enormous surveys of thirty-five thousand acres. I had 
my headquarters at Whitesburg, and went out into 
the surrounding districts, examining the tracts one by 
one. It was a rough country, and I traveled entirely 
on horseback. Strangers were rare in the mountains 
at that time, and I soon found myself a very well- 
known person. I was usually dubbed ' the mineral 
man,' however, and very seldom got the name of my 
ancestors. My guide, Adams, who was as tall and 
almost as slender as myself, rode a small black mule. 
He looked like Sancho Panza hunting for adventures. 
When I first got to Whitesburg, I asked Adams if it 
was a pretty orderly neighborhood, and he answered, 
* Wal, thar 's right smart killin' goin' on.' " 

" Was he what you call a moonshiner ? " asked the 
Chatelaine. 

" Yes, indeed, and a very thorough one. It was 
sometimes inconvenient, especially when I went over 
into the valley where the deputy sheriff lived. I 
always had to go alone, for the deputy had a warrant 
for Adams's arrest, and as Adams swore he 'd never 
be taken, it would have meant a sharp skirmish, and 

255 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



perhaps something unpleasant. On one such occasion 
I had been obliged to stop at a wretched cabin over- 
night. I got away in the morning just as early as I 
possibly could. I had to cross from that valley to 
another, over a narrow mountain trail. It was a sweet 
morning. The sun was shining bright and clear, and 
the air had a little touch of frost in it. It must have 
been the latter part of October. I enjoyed my lonely 
ride immensely. I was glad my moonshiner guide and 
his black mule had to be elsewhere " — 

" Were n't you afraid ? " asked Mrs. Ravenel. 

" Law, honey, Marsa John don' have no 'casion to 
be afeard when the rest of us is skeery," said Aunt 
Viney, impressively. She was over in a dark corner 
of the room where the whites of her eyes and her 
white hair were the most visible parts of her, and the 
effect, as you can imagine, was certainly striking. It 
was almost as if a sibyl had spoken. The Chatelaine 
is not accustomed to negroes, and looked absolutely 
startled. For the life of me I could not help laugh- 
ing. I answered, as soon as I could, — 

" There was nothing to be afraid of. I crossed the 
saddle of the mountain and was descending on the 
other side when I came to a rough cabin and a rougher 
clearing. The trail ran along one side of the fence. 
An old man was digging potatoes some distance away 
from the fence. I called out, ' Howdy,' and this," said 
I, turning to England, " is the mountain contraction 
for ' How do you do.' He called back, ' Howdy,' and 
added cheerfully, 'Wal, they ain't killed you yit?' 

256 



INDOORS 



I pulled up my horse, ' Little Nell ' I called her, and 
demanded quickly, ' What do you mean ? ' for the 
salutation was a bit jarring, even to an idealist. The 
old man put up his hand so as to shade his eyes from 
the sun, and took a good look at me. ' Oh,' said he, 
apologetically, ' you be the mineral man, be n't you ? 
I mistook you fur one o' them surveyor fellers, and 
they allowed they was going to kill them. But you 
be all right.' It seems that many of the mountaineers 
are what we call ' squatters,' and have no deeds to their 
farms. Consequently when the holders of the govern- 
ment surveys come along to claim their property, the 
mountaineers have a way of shooting the surveyors in 
the back by way of preventing the lines from being 
run out. My greatest danger, in fact my only danger, 
was in being mistaken for somebody else." 

" That would have been little comfort to your peo- 
ple, Mr. Percyfield, if you had got shot," said Ireland. 
" Were you often mistaken for somebody else ? " 
" Several times." 

" Go right on and tell us about it," said England. 
" One day I had a friend of mine do^vn from Phil- 
adelphia, and a German geologist up from Birmingham. 
With Adams, there were four of us, and as we were 
all mounted, we made quite an impressive party. We 
were going to see some coal deposits over on a farm 
on Black Mountain. There was a level stretch of 
road just before we got to the cabin, and we took ad- 
vantage of it to have a good gallop. We naturally 
made considerable clatter. It never occurred to me 

257 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



that we might frighten the people in the cabin. We 
drew rein in front of the cabin, and Adams called 
out ' Hello ! ' for we wanted to see the owner of the 
farm and ask him some questions. A woman came to 
the door. ' Where 's your old man ? ' The woman 
was trembling, but she answered with a brave lie, 
' He 's over yander in the field,' pointing to a distant 
clearing on the side of the mountain. Adams laughed 
good-naturedly. ' Don't you know me, Mirandy ? 
Fetch out your old man. We ain't a-goin' to hurt 
him.' When the woman recognized Adams, she gave 
a little nervous laugh of relief that was half a sob, and 
brought out her husband from under the bed. They 
took us for revenue officers, you see, and the old man 
was a noted moonshiner." 

" What a curious country," said Ireland. '' I should 
have thought that your evicted peasantry would have 
made some demonstration against you as a representa- 
tive of the landlords." 

" But they were n't evicted," said I, amused at this 
application of Irish terms to free America. "And 
they were n't peasants, and there were no landlords; at 
least they got no rents. It was an open question as to 
who owned the land. There was one little corner down 
in Tennessee that a surveyor told me to his positive 
knowledge was covered by thirteen different claims." 

" But did it never get you into trouble ? " persisted 
Ireland, who had evidently heard nothing of the story 
of Mirandy, and had been dwelling on some experi- 
ences of her own in the matter of Irish evictions. 

258 



INDOORS 



"Not exactly trouble," I answered. "I did have 
one funny experience, though. I was over on the Poor 
Fork of the Cumberland River, looking at some land 
that my Philadelphia men did not own, but wanted to 
buy. And well they might, for it had a seam of 
cannel coal on it ten feet thick. Adams did not know 
the country very well, and so we had always to get 
one of the mountaineers to go with us. That par- 
ticular day we could get no one, as there was to be 
speaking at the schoolhouse over at the mouth of 
Clover Field Creek. A certain Mr, White was very 
anxious to go to Congress, and proposed to show the 
people why they ought to send him. As I could do 
little else, and had some curiosity to see the gather- 
ing, I went over with the rest. The crowd was so 
large that the schoolhouse would not hold it all, and 
it was decided to have the meeting out doors under 
the trees. Benches were brought out from the school- 
house, and as many as could sat down. The rest of 
us stood in groups on the outskirts of the circle. 
Being so tall, and in different dress from the others, 
I made rather a prominent figure. Mr. White was a 
clever speaker. He did what I had supposed no one 
could do successfully, — he talked both water and whis- 
key. As we say in America, he carried a bucket on each 
shoulder, and he did n't spill a drop out of either 
bucket. The temperance people were delighted and 
the liquor people were delighted. Then Mr. White 
caught sight of me, and liis eloquence took a new 
turn. ' If you send me to Congress,' he went on im- 

259 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



pressively, ' I '11 get appropriation bills passed, and 
I '11 fix up this hyar Pore Fork of the Cumberland 
Kiver,' — it was about a foot deep at the time and 
full of rocks, — ' so that when the floods of heaven 
come, you can float out your own coal and iron and 
timber and dried apples and geese feathers and 'sang, 
and not be selling your lands for a song to these for- 
eigners.' Here all the people turned and looked dis- 
approvingly at me. I felt mighty queer." 

"And did they send him to Congress?" asked the 
practical England. " And did he do what he said he 
would?" 

" Well, he went to Congress, and did what he could, 
I suppose. But the Poor Fork of the Cumberland 
continues to work after its own fashion, removing the 
mountains and casting them into the sea, as it is said 
that faith can, in very small grains at a time, and 
never by the boat load." 

" You 're a very remarkable people," reiterated 
England. 

" However, that was not what I started out to tell 
you. I meant to tell you how Adams and I once ran 
into the midst of a regular Kentucky family feud. It 
was the strangest adventure ever I had, and in some 
respects, the funniest, in spite of the fact that I almost 
lost my hfe" — 

" You almost lost your life ! " said Margaret, with 
such dramatic horror that every one turned and looked 
at her. She added more quietly, " I don't call that 
at all funny." 

260 



INDOOES 



" No ; that part was n't funny," I said gravely. 
" But the rest was." Then I turned to Mrs. Kavenel 
and asked, " Would it make you nervous to hear it ? " 

" I think not," she answered, " since you evidently 
got out of the adventure all right. Pray go on." 

" You know something about the traditional family 
feuds in Kentucky? They are usually a very serious 
matter. It is hard to know just how they start. Some 
injury is done, or is thought to be done, to a certain 
family by some member of another family, and then 
the injured family never rests until it has had satis- 
factory revenge. This usually takes the form of pro- 
voking a quarrel, and so killing some member of the 
transgressing family. Then come reprisals on the other 
side, and so on to the third and fourth generations. 
Sometimes the quarrel smoulders for ten, twelve, even 
fifteen years, only to break out at last in some horrid 
act of violence. Eastern Kentucky, where I was at 
work, was particularly noted for these feuds. There 
was a notoriously bad one on just at that time, the 
famous Johnston-Howard feud. One of the Johnston 
boys had killed old man Howard on some very slight 
provocation, and the Howards and their friends had 
banded together and sworn that they would not rest 
until they had the life of some one of the Johnstons. 
The Johnston and the Howard plantations were both 
over on Yellow Creek, the one down at the Forks, and 
the other somewhat off the main stream, in what was 
known as Plumtree Hollow. For a time, therefore, 
the valley was the scene of a smouldering civil war. 

261 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



There were a few neutral families, but nearly every 
plantation, through family connections and the like, 
sided with either the Johnstons or the Howards. At 
first the matter weighed very heavily on my own 
spirits, but of course in a wholly impersonal way. I 
was not required to take sides, and could go with per- 
fect safety directly from one family to the other. After 
a time, however, I ceased to think about the feud, for 
I was getting more and more deeply interested in my 
geological work, and was finding the very simple key 
to the structure of the whole Eastern Kentucky coal 
field. You can't imagine how exciting it is to work 
out the geology of an entirely new district. I was in 
the field all the time now, and had Adams either dig- 
ging or traveling, from morning to night. It was 
early in November, and we had to be very active to 
get anything accomplished, for the days were so short. 
I had occasion to go over to Yellow Creek. There was 
a tract of land near the head of the valley whose turn 
for examination had now come, and in addition there 
were several general observations that I wanted to 
make. Even then I forgot the feud. 

u ^Q gQ^ to the head of the valley early one after- 
noon. It was nasty weather, cold and drizzly, and I 
ought not to have been out in it, but I was so full of 
enthusiasm that I stuck to my work until nearly four 
o'clock. Then I realized that I was pretty wet and 
cold, and that we ought to be seeking shelter for 
the night. So I told Adams to put up his pick and 
untie Little Nell and the black mule, and we would go 

262 



INDOORS 



down the valley in search of a stopping place. In a 
very few moments, we were both mounted and picking 
our way down the valley. The roads were so rough 
that we had to walk our animals practically all the 
way. The fii*st house we came to was very fine for 
those parts. It must have had at least four rooms in 
it, and it was built of boards in place of the cus- 
tomary logs. We rode up to the house full of plea- 
sant anticipations of good shelter and fare. We both 
called out a lusty ' Hello ! ' and in answer to it an 
old man came out of the house. I said, ' Howdy,' 
and then after the accepted phraseology of the moun- 
tains, asked if we could ' get to stop ' overnight 
with him. He said he reckoned we could n't, for his 
' daughter was mighty sick, plum nigh onto dyin', an' 
they was all purty much upset.' I was fuU of sym- 
pathy. It seemed a dreadful thing to have that young 
girl so ill out there in the wilderness, and so far from 
a doctor and proper medicines. I expressed my lively 
condolence. The old man received it cheerlessly, and 
as we could be of no service, we rode on down the val- 
ley, not a little depressed ourselves. I did not suspect 
for a moment that the old man was lying. The next 
house was of logs, but was attractive looking and quite 
surrounded with late fall flowers. I was anxious to 
stop, for I had found that flowers always meant pretty 
decent sort of people. When you do all your own 
work, and have to work pretty hard into the bargain, 
it means something to have a good flower garden. But 
Adams said we could n't stop there, for it was the house 

263 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of the Widow Wright. You must know that among 
these rough mountaineers a very primitive but a very- 
strict etiquette prevails. There are no hotels what- 
ever, and the law of hospitality requires that any cabin 
shall receive a stranger overnight, provided he present 
himself before dark, so that they can look him over 
well and see what sort of a person he is, and provided 
there is no sickness in the house. But one must never 
ask to stop if the man of the house is away, or if the 
establishment is that of a widow, even though in both 
cases there are grown-up sons who could well act the 
part of host. Furthermore, the stranger must never 
get off his horse until invited to do so. He must ride 
up and call ' Hello,' and only when the mountaineer 
says laconically, ' 'Light,' may he think of dismount- 
ing. 

" I knew some of these rules, but I did not know how 
binding they were. 

" We rode down the valley and into the gathering 
darkness. The cabins were half a mile, a mile, even 
two miles apart. It was rather a serious matter to 
miss ' getting to stop ' at the cabin you had calculated 
on. In this case, the next cabin was fully two miles 
down the valley, and by the time we got there it was 
almost pitch dark. The cabin stood on the side of the 
mountain, some distance back from the road. We 
could just distinguish its dark outline, and a faint 
gleam of light coming from the one tiny window. We 
halted, and Adams gave the usual call. The door of 
the cabin opened. We could see a woman's figure 

264 



INDOORS 



outlined in dark silhouette against the ruddy firelight 
of the interior. It looked very cheery, and already I 
was feeling more comfortable. But no, the woman 
could not take us in. She was sorry, she said, but her 
old man was away from home. With that she closed 
the door, and bolted it, I dare say, if there was such 
a thing as a bolt. I never suspected that she, too, was 
lying. The next cabin was another good two miles. 
It was still drizzling, and presently it grew so dark 
that literally I could not see my horse's head in front 
of me. The mule was now not even a black spot on 
the face of the earth, but part and parcel of the uni- 
versal void. Adams got off, and floundered along as 
best he could on foot. I dropped my reins and simply 
let my horse follow. It was very slow traveling, and 
as you can imagine, extremely uncomfortable. Finally 
I said, ' Adams, the next cabin we come to, we will 
not ask them if they can keep us overnight. We 
will simply tie our horses to the fence, march up to 
the cabin, and say that we are very sorry to trouble 
them, but that if they can keep us, we shall be very 
much obliged, for reaUy we cannot go a single step 
further.' Adams acquiesced, as he always did, but 
he ought never to have allowed me to do such a thing. 
We came near to paying dear for it. After what 
seemed an interminable time, — in reality, I suppose 
it was a trifle after eight, — we reached the next cabin. 
We rode in perfect silence. We were cold and hungry 
and wet, and in no mood for talking " — 

"Your tale becomes improbable," said Margaret, 
265 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



laughing. " You were never out of the mood for 
talking." 

''Yes, I was," I answered stoutly, " for one time in 
my life at least. And indeed there was nothing to be 
said. Everything had been arranged beforehand. It 
did not occur to us that our movements might seem 
stealthy. I got out of my saddle very softly, for I 
was too stiff to move in a hurry. We tied our an- 
imals to the crazy Virginia fence, took our saddle- 
bags, chmbed the fence, and marched up through the 
old apple orchard to the cabin. The door was open, 
and we walked in. We found only three persons in 
the cabin, a glum, depressed-looking woman ; a small 
child, howling vigorously and clinging to the woman's 
skirts, and a decrepit, bedridden man, who was chat- 
tering away for all he was worth. I could not un- 
derstand a word that he said. The woman gave us 
no greeting whatever. I thought she was probably 
tired, and perhaps out of sorts at the prospect of having 
to get supper for two himgry men. I was sorry for 
her, and should have retreated, but we simply had to 
stop some place, so I said to her in my most Chester- 
fieldian manner, ' I 'm sorry, madam, to come in upon 
you at this late hour, but if you can give us some 
supper and a bed, I should count it a great favor, for 
the night is so bad,' — Miss Polyhymnia says I ought 
to say inclement, not bad, when I speak of so irre- 
sponsible a thing as the weather, — ' for the night is so 
bad and we are so wet and tired and hungry that we 
can hardly go a step farther.' I was a mere youngster 

266 



INDOORS 



at the time, for I graduated, you know, when I was 
twenty, and as it was the following autumn, I still had 
what Charlotte called my cherubic smile, so that I 
knew in the end, the woman would give in " — 

'' What a young scamp you were," said England, 
shaking her finger at me. "Trying to wheedle a 
poor old woman in that fashion. If it had been I, I 
should have sent you supperless to the barn." 

" No you would n't. You would have made me a 
cup of your very best tea, and got me some dainty 
slices of bread and butter, and some jam, just as you 
do here at the Chateau." 

" Perhaps I should," admitted England. " But it 
would have been more than you deserved." 

" I 'm accustomed to that, dear Madame. It 's the 
reward of deserving even a little," I replied gayly. 

" Please go on with your story," said Margaret. 
" For if you don't, I shall have to take my mother to 
bed before the end of it ; " and then she inquired with 
mock anxiety, " Has it any end? " 

But I ignore this reference to the manner in which 
I spin my tales, and go straight ahead : '' AVell, the 
woman never did relent, as far as her manner went. 
She was just glum, first, last, and always, and the old 
man went on chattering at a great rate. But the 
woman put out a couple of chairs and said in a snappy 
way, as if it gave her a stitch in her side, ' Take a 
chair.' Adams and I sat down, side by side, like two 
little boys at school. Then the woman proceeded to 
get us our supper. When it was ready, she said in 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the same economical way, 'Fetch up your chairs.' 
We needed no second bidding. The table was covered 
with mottled red oil-cloth, and as the rush-bottomed 
chairs were entirely too low, our heads came only a 
short distance above the table. When we spread out 
our elbows to cut anything on our plates we looked, 
as far as attitude went, precisely like the little cherubs 
in the Sistine Madonna. But what a supper it was. 
We had fried chicken, and eggs, and bacon, and corn- 
bread, and soda biscuit, and china-white butter, and 
apple sauce, and coffee as black as the night " — I 
heard Aunt Viney sigh. Her opinion of European 
cookery is not complimentary — "I am just running 
over the bill of fare to show you that my persuasive 
ways did tell, for it took just one hour to prepare that 
supper. I was at pains to tell the woman how good 
everything was, and though she only grunted, I know 
she was pleased. When at last we had finished, she 
took a candle and said, ' I '11 show you to your beds.' 
Happily there were two cabins, and Adams and I had 
the luxury of having one of them to ourselves. Often 
we had to share the same bed in one corner of a cabin 
already uncomfortably full. I have slept in a small 
cabin with thirteen people, three dogs, and a horrid 
kerosene lamp, — kept going because there were no 
matches left. I tumbled into bed at once, and was 
asleep without the least ado. But I woke up several 
times during the night to find Adams either going out 
of the cabin or just coming in. I would ask sleepily, 
^ What 's the matter, Adams ? ' and he would answer 

268 



INDOORS 



invariably, ' Oh, nothing. I was just looking after 
the stock.' K I had been less sleepy, it might have 
occurred to me that this was very unusual attention. 
But it didn't. I simply turned over and went to 
sleep again. In the morning, I was up bright and 
early. It had cleared off during the night, and the 
day was perfect. The glum woman gave us our 
breakfast, and I paid her for our entertainment and 
for the feed of the animals. When we rode away, I 
think she said ' Good-by,' but if so, it was the only 
unnecessary word uttered during our stay. 

'' It was a heavenly morning. The rain had fresh- 
ened everything it touched, and it had been persistent 
enough to touch about everything there was. Now, 
the sun was shining brightly and not a cloud was to 
be seen. When we got some distance away from the 
cabin, Adams turned to me and said, ' Did you notice 
anything queer about that place ? ' ' No,' I an- 
swered, ' I can't say that I did. I 've seen so much 
that is queer since I 've been out here in the moun- 
tains that the cabin we 've just left seemed much like 
the rest.' ' WeU, there was something mighty queer 
about it,' said Adams, rather gravely for a reckless 
moonshiner, ' and it kept me plum uneasy the whole 
night. I know that at least three men make their 
home at that cabin, and there war n't nary a one to 
be found. I had to hunt my own feed for the stock 
and get on the best I could. It war n't tiU this morn- 
ing that I found out what the matter was. There was 
a slip of a boy that came witliin hailing distance of 

269 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the barn. He was so plum scary I thought I 'd never 
git holt on him nohow. But at last I made him 
understand who I be, and got to talk with him a 
spell.' 'What did he say?' I asked eagerly, for by 
this time I was interested. Adams looked at me 
and said impressively. ' He said a lot of things, 
when he once got over bein' so skeery and found his 
tongue. For a fact, me and you came plum nigh to 
bein' filled up with bullets last night.' Adams made 
rather a long story of it, but the gist of the matter 
was that when we rode up to the cabin the night be- 
fore, there were between eight and ten men belonging 
to the Johnston faction inside of the cabin, and they 
were expecting every minute some attack or demon- 
stration from the Howards. As Adams and I gave 
no call and came up through the orchard so silently, 
the men mistook us for the Howard party. Every 
man there had a loaded gun or revolver, and it was the 
greatest wonder in the world that they didn't open 
fire upon us before they beat such a hasty retreat. 
But Fate had willed otherwise. The men evidently 
concluded from the seeming boldness of the attack 
that we were in large numbers and pretty determined. 
Every mother's son of them took to the woods and 
spent the night out, while we marched in and oc- 
cupied their beds. It always amuses me when I 
think that I, a mere boy at the time, and as peaceable 
as they make them, should have routed nearly a dozen 
well-armed men, while I had only one retainer and 



270 



INDOORS 



not so much as a pop-gun between us. But I think 
I have never been in greater danger." 

" What cowards they were, to desert the woman and 
child ! " said Margaret scornfully. 

" And the poor old man," added Ireland gently. 

" It was n't so bad as it seems," said I. " They 
knew that the woman and the child and old man were 
perfectly safe. Mountain etiquette is very strong on 
that point, even in feud time. The Howards would 
have had the whole countryside against them, kinsfolk 
and all, if they had touched the woman or child or 
old man. It is a law of the feud that a strong man 
must be struck down, the younger and stronger the 
better, the one that the family can least afford to lose, 
for the feud is senseless as well as cruel. They were 
as particular in selecting their victim as the Israelites 
were with the dumb brutes of their own sacrifices ; or 
for that matter, as you imperialists are when you send 
your young men into imholy wars in Africa and the 
Philippines." 

England ignored this thrust and said solemnly, " It 
was a most providential escape. I should think you 
would feel that a life so marvelously preserved ought 
to be devoted to missions." 

" I do, Madame, but not for that reason. The 
Power that carried me into such danger was bound to 
get me out again, or else lose my future services, at 
least here on earth. Did you ever think of that? 
And did you ever think that the escapes of each day, 



271 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of each night, are quite as marvelous ? But I had 
long before resolved to be a missionary." 

" Then why have you never set about it ? " demanded 
England quickly. 

" I have," said I, with a twinkle in my eye. " Have 
I not been laboring for six months or more to con- 
vert you from your wicked, imperialistic notions ? " — 
and I added more seriously — " And am I not going 
this very summer to London to see what the better- 
hearted among your own countrymen are doing to- 
wards saving their own people ? And do I not return 
to America in the fall to throw myself into the very 
thick of this social fight ? Believe me, my dear Ma- 
dame, I am only over here sharpening my weapons. 
The new gospel of social democracy, of social Chris- 
tianity, has truth back of it, and now it needs liter- 
ary skill to carry it home to the people we most 
want to reach, to the people of brains as well as of 
heart. That is what I am working for. And I have 
been studying Europe that my democracy may be 
intelligent and cosmopolitan. We must know what 
forces we have to contend against. We must know 
what forces we have on our side. I do not want to be 
a doctrinaire, the holder of impossible views. I want 
to know the world and to act eflPectively. And do 
you know why I am mastering French so carefully ? 
It is because the language is the most cosmopolitan we 
have, and one must be a master of it to fight the cause 
of internationalism. Madame, with my whole heart I 
am trying to serve God by hastening his kingdom." 

272 



INDOORS 



All were silent. I had spoken more at length and 
more seriously than perhaps I ought to have done, but 
it was a profession of faith, a confession if you like, 
that I felt impelled to make. 

It was England who broke the silence, " TTe might 
not all agree about details, as to how the world is to 
be saved, Mr. Percyfield, but it is pleasant to think 
that we are all seeking a common end. Each must do 
his best, as he sees it, must n't he ? " 

Margaret got up and went over and sat down be- 
side her mother. ^' It is bedtime, is it not, mother 
mine?" she said affectionately. '' Since Mr. Percy- 
field was not shot, we may sleep well and have no bad 
dreams." 

'^ I suppose so," said Mrs. Ravenel, " but to make 
quite sure about the sleeping weU, I think that Mr. 
Percyfield ought to tell us one more story that is al- 
together cheerful." 

I felt as much myself, so I said, " Very well, but a 
short one. Shall it be of the South ? " 

" Yes, indeed," answered Mrs. Eavenel. 

" Once upon a time, when I had on my famous 
seven-league boots, and was stalking across the moun- 
tains of western North Carolina, I came to a sweet 
little summer village called Highlands. It is in the 
very southwestern corner, near the South Carolina 
border. I found there as pretty a boarding-house as 
ever I met in the South. It was kept by a charming 
little old lady from Marblehead, a Miss Dixie. How 
she ever got so far from home, I was quite at a loss to 

273 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



know, unless it were to make good her name. How- 
ever, we were soon the best of friends, for I went to 
her with an introduction from a young fellow, evi- 
dently a favorite of hers. It was in the autumn and 
there were only a few boarders left. One of them was 
a Mrs. Toland, from New York. To say that any one 
is from New York is about the same as not to identify 
them. It is quite a different matter when you say 
they are from Philadelphia, or New Orleans, or Bos- 
ton. Well, Mrs. Toland had a list of one hundred 
crazy sentences, anagrams I think you call them, and 
the letters of each sentence, when rearranged, made 
the name of some popular American newspaper. Mrs. 
Toland had worked out all but three, and these she 
could not get, so one evening at supper she distributed 
the refractory ones among three of us. My sentence was 
' Search, mean villain.' I am very stupid about such 
matters, not being at all interested, and I promptly 
gave it up. After supper we went into the drawing- 
room, and gathered around the open fire. Miss Dixie 
had a lot of interesting things, cut glass that had been 
used to entertain Lafayette on his last visit to Amer- 
ica, and a charming little gold watch with a bird's nest 
done in colored enamel on one lid. The first time Miss 
Dixie's father saw her mother, she was a little girl 
looking at a bird's nest, and the enamel had been done 
to order when they came to be engaged. And she 
had a lot of other things rich in sentiment. Miss 
Dixie had been showing them to us. Finally, she 
brought out a couple of old photographs, daguerreo- 

274 



INDOORS 



types they were, and said she wanted to know what 
I thought of the faces. I handed them first to Mrs. 
Toland, asking her what she thought of them. But 
she gave them back, saying that she saw nothing 
special in them. Each was the picture of a lad, per- 
haps fifteen or sixteen years old, and evidently taken 
some years back. I don't know why I spoke so quickly 
and so confidently, but I said at once ' This one is 
given to close thinking, is probably a good mathe- 
matician, and the other one, I should say, is either a 
musician or an inventor.' Miss Dixie was greatly 
astonished. ' Why,' she cried, ' you 've struck it 
exactly. This one is a mathematician, and absolutely 
nothing else, and that one is at present the best ama- 
teur musician in Boston.' " 

" I believe. Monsieur, that you are clairvoyant," 
said the Chatelaine. 

" Perhaps it was telepathy," I said, and went on 
with my story. " After that we settled down to our 
reading. I remember that I had got hold of Water 
Babies. It so happened that I had never read it 
when I was a youngster, and I got so fascinated that 
I read the whole thing at one sitting. When Mrs. 
Toland went to bed, she said to me, ' You did n't solve 
my anagram.' ' No,' said I, ' but I '11 think about it 
just before I go to sleep and let unconscious cerebra- 
tion act. I wiU give you the answer in the morning.' 
' Well, if you do,' said Mrs. Toland, laughing, ' after 
your success with those photographs, I shall know for 
sure that you are a witch ' — she meant ' wizard.' It 

275 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



was after midnight when I finished my book and crept 
up to bed. I thought of that wretched anagram just 
before I went to sleep, but I tried to put it out of my 
mind, for the Water Babies had aroused a lot of new 
and interesting thoughts. When I woke the next 
morning the sun was streaming in at my open window. 
The first distinct thought I had was ' Nashville Amer- 
ican.' I jumped out of bed and scribbled the words 
down on a bit of paper. I wrote ' search, mean 
villain ' under them, and found of course that the 
letters exactly corresponded. When I went down to 
breakfast, I said triumphantly, ' Nashville American, 

— good morning, Mrs. Toland.' " 

" And did it really come to you in the night ? " said 
England; "how odd." 

" Are you always so successful with photographs? " 
asked Margaret ; " I have a lot that I shall have to 
show you." 

" I think you 'd better not," I answered. " Once 
when the musician and I were tramping in Tennessee, 

— another Southern story, Mrs. Ravenel, — we stopped 
for some days at a delightful old log house on Koan 
Mountain. There were two attractive daughters there 
who had been educated at the convent at Hickory. 
The family were Catholics. One evening the elder 
girl got out her photographs and showed them to the 
musician and me. The photographs were mostly of 
young girls who had been with her at the convent, 
though there was also a sprinkling of handsome boys 
among them, as there ought to be, of course. Without 

276 



INDOORS 



thinking, I began to express my opinion of the prob- 
able characteristics of the originals, girls and boys 
alike. In a moment, however, it occurred to me that 
it was a decidedly rude proceeding to be talldng to a 
girl about her friends in this frank way and I hastily 
apologized. But the girl begged me to go on, and 
foolishly I did, describing the whole lot as honestly as 
I could, from first to last. She said I hit it perfectly 
in every single case. It was not a kind thing to do, 
and I should never be willing to do it again. Where 
the descriptions were unfavorable, they must have 
deepened the girl's own feeling. But the next morn- 
ing I had my ' come-uppings.' The younger daughter, 
inspired by my success, brought me a photograph from 
her own collection and asked for as complete a history 
as I would be willing to give. I proceeded at consid- 
erable length, and with much too great assurance. 
When I finished, the girl took the photograph back 
and thanked me very nicely. I asked if I had been 
successful. She answered reluctantly, but with a 
smile she could not altogether hide, that the photo- 
graph was of her best friend, and that I had said 
exactly the reverse of what the girl really was." 

The ladies joined me in a hearty laugh at my own 
expense, and the Chatelaine suggested charitably that 
perhaps the younger daughter was mistaken, and that 
I might have been right after all. It was kind in the 
Chatelaine, but I could lay no such flattering unction 
to my soul. 

Mrs. Ravenel thought that these stories were cheer- 
277 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



fill enough to go to sleep on, and she and Margaret 
rose to leave the room. I opened the door for them, 
and shook hands with Mrs. Eavenel, as I am very apt 
to do when I tell old ladies good-night. To my sur- 
prise, Margaret also offered me her hand, and said 
laughingly, " I think, Mr. Percyfield, that you are 
very much safer in Europe than you are in Amer- 
ica." 

I answered in a low voice, " I don't know ; I feel 
myself in great danger." 

But Margaret chose not to hear. 

England was the last to leave the drawing-room. 
As she was going out, she said to me rather mis- 
chievously, " You know your Shakespeare so well, Mr. 
Percyfield, that I dare say you remember those lines, 
' She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, and I 
loved her that she did pity them.' " 

" Oh, yes," said I, " I remember them very well, 
but I never liked them. A man would much rather 
be loved for himself than for his adventures." 

" But don't you believe," said England, " that the 
adventures go to make the man ? I sometimes think 
that you people, who hold to evolution, deliberately 
run into adventures for the sake of their reaction, 
the way you say you take your piano playing. That 
is what gives you men the greater chance. And it 
seems to me, Mr. Percyfield, that you have had even 
more than a man's share." 

England is a sympathetic soul, in spite of her 
crooked politics. 

278 



INDOORS 



Somehow I found it diflficult that evening to settle 
down to my practicing. But finally I succeeded in 
doing what I always approve of doing, — I came back 
into the present moment, and then I played uncom- 
monly well. 



279 



CHAPTER X 

MARGARET 

I COME now to the greatest experience of my whole 
life. 

I have had adventures without mimber, as any 
active geologist must. I have been in hold-ups, and 
in many other tight places. I have been among the 
moonshiners of the South. I have traveled far and 
wide, by land and by water. I have had adventures 
in the mining regions of the West, so terrible that I 
could not tell them to these gentlewomen at the 
Chateau, or indeed bring myself to repeat them 
under any circumstances, for they seem more like 
dreadful nightmares than the thing a man is called 
upon to bear in reality. And, thank God! I have 
not been a coward. I take no credit for this to my- 
self. It is due entirely to the training my mother 
and my grandfather Percyfield gave me. It was in- 
deed a part of that perfect good breeding which char- 
acterized them both not to be afraid of anything. I 
have always been profoundly thankful that my family 
are well-bred, very much more thankful for this than 
for the accident that we have money. I could get 
along very well without the money, for if I were put 
to it, I could always earn enough, and honorably, to 
280 



MARGARET 



have at least a decent living, but life without the 
simplicity and high spirit that come with gocxl breed- 
ing would seem to me a very arid desert, a gift of 
more than doubtful value. 

I have met good breeding in all classes of society, 
M>nietimes among the rich, sometimes among the i)oor, 
most frequently among the great middle classes. It 
is a mistake, though, to suppose that any one class 
has a monopoly of it, either rich or poor, cultivated or 
ignorant. Considering their advantages, I think that 
educated people are more deficient than others. I 
have known college professors less well-bred by far 
than even the majority of the people they looked down 
upon. Good breeding is not a manner, a coat of 
varnish that a man may put on and off at his plea- 
sure. It is an instinct wrapped up in the very tissues, 
an instinct with this motto, — '' All or nothing." It 
cannot be denied or put aside, for then it ceases to be. 
A man may be polite or rude, rude or polite, and can 
keep up this intermittent fever as long as he lives, 
though his politeness will have an increasing air of 
shabbiness al)out it, and to sensitive people will be- 
come in the end his most offensive form of rudeness. 
But a man cannot be well-bred and ill-bred the same 
week, or the same month, or the same year even. 
Good breeding sums up in its instinctive attitude all 
the efforts a man has made towards perfection, aye, 
and all that his ancestors have made before him. It 
is unconscious, the simple acting out of a sound, 
wholesome nature. 

281 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



This is why I so much dislike the creed taught by 
my neighbor, the late Monsieur Jean Calvin. It 
seems to me essentially ill-bred, a species of salvation 
in which we have all along a sneaking desire to do the 
wrong thing, but manage to keep up a semblance of 
good, either through the grace of God, or the hope of 
heaven, or the fear of the devil. It is a shop-keeping 
scheme from first to last. It is the same with all 
creeds that make sin their central doctrine, for one 
has to believe all along that if one acted out one's 
real nature one would be dreadfully wicked, and that 
it is only by some scheme of redemption worked out 
by closet theologians who know as much about real, 
red-blooded, God-given life as does a mummy, — that 
it is only by some such scheme that one can dodge the 
enemy, and come out at last on the winning side. This 
seems to me a very poor view of life, very poor and 
very irreligious. Happily it is going out of vogue. 
A saner, sweeter religion is coming to us from the 
great open of life. We are learning that the central 
fact of salvation is not sin, but that divine goodness 
which wells up in some measure in every human heart 
that beats. The way to be good is to be good, — not 
to sham goodness. It is a sincere purification of the 
desires and instincts, that process which makes the 
good act a necessity, the fruit and flower of a sound 
seed. This is the religion of Jesus, and it 's a thou- 
sand pities that it was ever obscured by these hypo- 
critical, bargaining, shop-keeping schemes of the theo- 
logians. It is the teaching of all great teachers. It 

282 



MARGARET 



is the Pauline doctrine of growing in grace ; it is the 
beautiful Buddhist doctrine of the Path ; it is the 
Socratic doctrine of the philosophic life ; it is the 
very heart and core of the process of evolution. 

Good breeding, then, is religion done in terms of 
everyday life. I do not exaggerate when I say that 
it is the most important thing of all the many things 
that are. A man's breeding is the measure of his 
social evolution. It stamps his greater or less kinship 
to the gods. 

My mother did not formulate her beliefs, but she 
was as true to the right as is the compass-needle to 
the pole. She simply would not allow either Char- 
lotte or me to be afraid of anything. And this 
showed in everything that she did. She was a very 
daring horsewoman, and rode the most spirited horses. 
Less well-poised persons called her reckless, but that 
she never was, for her spirit dominated every horse that 
ever she rode and made it subject to her will. You 
may have noticed that affairs have a varying degree of 
danger according to the spirit with wliich we meet 
them. Many of the things my mother did would have 
been dangerous for less well-bred women, but were 
perfectly safe for her. She carried out the same prin- 
ciple in her treatment of Charlotte and me, and even 
of our little friends. One day a lady who lived oppo- 
site to us in St. Charles Street, in one of those less tidy 
places that I have mentioned, rushed over to tell my 
mother that Peyton and I were playing on the front 
roof. My mother listened calmly and said in all seri- 

283 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



ousness, " If it makes you nervous, I will have tliem 
play on the back roof." 

My mother had me put in the saddle out at Up- 
lands when I was such a little boy that the horse 
seemed to me an elephant, a mastodon, a very monster 
in point of size, and I cried out in fear, and was hke 
to have fallen off. But my mother walked along by 
my side, and chided me gently and lovingly, telling me 
that little boys never cried. Then she rode with me, 
and gave me something of her own high spirit. I 
think it was this perfect fearlessness that made such 
a strong bond of union between my mother and my 
grandfather Percyfield. I owe it to them that I have 
not been a coward. 

And so I pass on to my great adventure. 

Springtime at the Chateau was so full of immediate 
happiness that I should have liked it to go on forever. 
Of course I knew in some corner of the thinking part 
of me that it could not last always. I knew that 
some time my enchanted castle would become again a 
thing of mere wood and stone, the plain Chateau de 
Beau-Rivage, as the tax-gatherer has it on his books. 
I knew that our happy circle must some time be 
broken. But for the time these facts did not press 
in upon me. I lived the highest moral life of which a 
man is capable, for I Hved absolutely in the present mo- 
ment, and made it as sweet and beautiful as possible. 
The past did not comfort me ; the future did not allure 
me ; it was the present that satisfied me. And when 
a man can say that, he has tasted happiness. I had 

284 



MARGARET 



given up the tiresome, stupid habit of forever analyz- 
in<^ my own feelings. I no longer kept a^sking myself 
whether or not I loved Margaret. I knew tliat every 
moment when I was not either working or sleeping I. 
wanted to be with her. I did not try to imagine what 
my life would be if she were taken out of it. If I ha^l, 
I should probably have recoiled from it as from an 
abyss. I took the sweet days just as they came, quite 
as a child would, save that I was free from a child's 
fears, and had the man's larger capacity for delight. 

It was in the night-time that the revelation came 
to me. I was wakened by my old shadow friend, 
the duke of Savoy. He was no longer dressed in the 
plaid of the huntsman, or the sombre velvet of the 
statesman. He was attired in what might have been 
his bridal finery : a gay costume of pink and white 
satin. He made a very brave figure ; and in his eye 
was such a look of tender happiness that I sprang out 
of bed, and moved towards him. It seemed as if a 
magnet were pulling me. But it was a piece of mis- 
taken enthusiasm. It lost me the duke, and brought 
me in his stead only a patch of moonlight on the clean, 
scoured floor. It was myself who was standing there 
in i)laee of the duke. For the sheen of satin I found 
a tissue of pale moonbeams. But I did not resent the 
duke's visit, and his liaving wakened me from a sound 
slumber. I was conscious of a pleasant excitement. I 
did not go back to bed, for I was too thoroughly wide 
awake to think of sleeping. I drew my hirge stejuner 
shawl around me and sat down by the op<.'n window. 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I have always been very sensitive to the moonlight. 
Charlotte says I must never tell that to a stranger, or 
he might tap his forehead significantly. It was gra- 
cious of her to say ' to a stranger.' 

The world that spread itself out before my great 
south window was almost as shadowy as the duke him- 
self. All the daytime features were there, but in the 
moonlight they were unreal and dream-like. There was 
no wind, and consequently no movement. It looked 
like the photograph of a silent, deserted world. The 
hush was so profound that one could almost hear it. 
The garden attracted me the most. Being ordinarily so 
familiar, the deep shadows under the trees and back of 
the bushes clothed it in additional mystery. It was 
natural to look for Margaret, for I had drawn the 
chair to the window for that very purpose. I could 
see nothing of her. The garden was an untenanted 
Eden. I called very softly, not choosing my words, 
but letting them come as they would. 

" Margaret, my love ; Margaret, my own dear 
love ! " 

There was no answer from the garden. Nothing 
stirred. The moonbeams silvered everything, and 
there was the silence of the fifth day of creation. 

But in my heart there was an answer that came 
like the onrushing of a mighty flood, musical as a 
thousand waters, as the music of a thousand tinkling 
fountains, but impetuous, irresistible, overwhelming. 
It was the flood of a great knowledge, the knowledge 
of my love for Margaret, and it enveloped me com- 

286 



MARGARET 



pletely. I knew then that I loved Margaret, loved 
her with my whole heart and soul and body. I knelt 
down at the open window. I felt consecrated, up- 
lifted. The breath of a new life swept over my spirit. 
I loved Margaret more than I had supposed that one 
human being could love another. It was no longer 
the shadow woman that I loved, no longer even the 
little Margaret with her great brown eyes and chest- 
nut curls and oval face. It was this dear comrade of 
the present moment, this more than radiant spirit, this 
superb woman, with firm, earth-planted feet and heart 
that reached to heaven, this woman who had come so 
quietly and so gently into my life, and had given it 
dimensions such as I had never known before. This it 
was that I loved. 

I stretched my hands into the night. From the in- 
visible I would have gathered Margaret and encircled 
her with my strong arms and drawn her to myself. I 
did not know that I could love with this devouring 
passion, this hunger to possess. 

I looked out into space. It was a fair universe 
that lay before me, bathed in the pure colorless moon- 
light. I thanked the Lord of Creation for this intoxi- 
cating gift of life and love. I thanked him that he 
had made ub men and women that we might love some- 
thing more beautiful and more wonderful than our- 
selves, and be each to the other a revelation and a 
delight. When at last I went back to bed, it was a 
different man, for in my heart was shining the white- 
ness of a great light. 

287 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



I could not stay in bed. I felt that I must go to 
some spot that Margaret had touched. 

I got up, and in the moonlight took my cold, refresh- 
ing bath. Everything was so white and unreal that I 
seemed to be bathing a marble statue, but I knew that 
under the white limbs the blood was running hot and 
red, and under the marble chest a heart was beating 
high with hope. I dressed quickly and went down into 
the garden. I walked between the rows of poplars 
where Margaret and I had so often walked. I sat on 
the chairs and benches that I knew she had sat upon. 
Each familiar spot gave me a sense of comfort, a touch 
of her presence. 

Then I went around the Chateau along the main 
building to the north tower where I knew that Mar- 
garet slept. Her window was open. It seemed to 
bring her nearer to me to feel the open window and 
to fancy that the same sweet air that was caressing her 
forehead was also touching mine. There is a small 
iron balcony at her window. I would have given any- 
thing that I possess to have had her come for a mo- 
ment out on the balcony, that I might have seen her 
alive, moving, breathing, seen her with these new eyes 
of love. I should not have spoken or stirred a muscle. 
I should have been content to look. 

But I could not make her come. I could only 
image her there in the white dimity gown that she 
had worn the night before, and with that content my- 
self as best I could. 

Then I went back to the more familiar parts of the 
288 



MARGARET 



garden, and made my way through the dripping bushes 
to the duke's summer house. 1 sat there and watched 
the coming of the day. First, it was in the blue vault 
above me, paling the moon and stars. Then it 
touched the top of the Juras with rosy light, and came 
gently slipping down the mountain side, waking the 
sleeping villages and towns, and turning their stone- 
work into walls of jasper. Finally it touched the blue 
waters of the Lake, and bathed our own beautiful gar- 
den in its warm, yellow light, — the new-born day 
had come. I was deeply moved by this renewal of 
life on all sides of me, for I had a part in it that I 
had never had before. In my own heart was the 
breath of a new life. 

I drank morning coffee with the Chatelaine. She 
was surprised to see me up so early. I told her that 
I had been watching the birth of a new day. 

I knew it was not worth while to wait in the salle 
a manger in the hope of seeing Margaret, for she 
always had her breakfast with her mother in their 
rooms. Ordinarily I should not see Margaret until 
the luncheon at twelve, unless I had the good fortime 
to catch a glimpse of her in the garden. It was quite 
impossible for me to go to work without seeing her, 
and I did not attempt anything so foolish. I went 
downstairs and around tlie Chateau to the north 
tower, as I had done in the moonlight. It was so fine 
a morning that I had hoped Margaret might be on 
the balcony. But she was not in sight, and so I 
called up to her, '^ Gooil-morning, Margaret, the top 

289 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



of the morning to you^ I had always been calling 
her '' Miss Ravenel " before, and the " Margaret " 
slipped out before I thought, but, for the life of me, I 
could not be sorry. 

I heard her cheery voice, before I saw her, " Good- 
morning, loiterer, good hunting to you," — this was 
her way of speeding my work. She was on the balcony 
for only a moment, and in the white dimity gown 
looked as sweet and beautiful as the morning itself. 
'' A heavenly day, Mr. Scribe ; be sure and put it in 
your sketches." Then she was gone. 

I had to live on that small glimpse of her the whole 
morning, for she did not go into the garden at all. I 
watched it closely. I found afterwards that she and 
the Chatelaine had gone into Geneva on their wheels 
to attend to some errands for Mrs. Ravenel. I have 
but one fault to find with my south tower. It com- 
mands only the garden. It ought to command the 
courtj^ard as well. I cannot say that I did very much 
work that morning. I did make some attempt at 
writing, but somehow my pen seemed inclined to form 
but one word and that was " Margaret." Nor did I 
think. I could do nothing but sit at the open window, 
and give myself up to the wonder of my new pos- 
session. 

We all gathered at luncheon. I could no longer 
meet Margaret with the old unconsciousness, for my 
heart was bubbling over in all that I did, and to look 
at her and not show it was just impossible. So I had 
to look away, or catch swift stolen glimpses. But my 

290 



MAKGAEET 



ears were under no such necessity. They could drink 
in every word she said, every tone of her voice, and to 
them it was all very sweet music. 

I am sure that Margaret instinctively noticed the 
difference and guessed the meaning of it. Probably 
she knew that morning, when I called up to her 
balcony. It was not a thing that I could hide very 
well if I had wanted to. There was no need of speech. 
I had only to wait for some sign that my love had 
been accepted. All day long it was singing in my 
heart, like some sky-intoxicated lark, and all night 
long it nestled on my pillow like some sweet, brood- 
ing presence. And yet I wanted to speak. I wanted 
the joy of taking Margaret's hand in mine and tell- 
ing her with my lips as well as with my eyes how 
much I loved her. And I wanted to see in her eyes 
the sudden gleam of love-light which would tell me 
that we belonged to each other. 

Margaret herself was beautifully simple and natural. 
She gave no outward sign that she was aware of any 
difference in the conditions of our comradery. I 
fancied, however, that she was a little more shy of 
being alone with me, but even that passed off in a day 
or two, and she was as frank and unaffected as always. 
I continued to call her •• Margaret," for it would have 
been quite impossible for me to have said ^*Miss 
Ravenel." I felt no rebuke, and in my heart I knew 
that Margaret loved me. 

One morning a few days after, I found Margaret 
alone in the garden. She would have sent me back 

291 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



to my tower, but I begged off on the jDlea that I had 
just finished one piece of work and really could not 
begin a new thing until the next day. She was 
somewhat loath to let me off. I think she foresaw 
what was coming, and would have put it into the 
future. It was curious that I could sympathize with 
Margaret in her shrinking before this great change 
that was coming into her life and mine, and was yet 
as powerless to avert it as if I had been the merest 
onlooker. Something as irresistible as destiny itself 
seemed to be sweeping us both on into a larger, more 
complex life. And Margaret, too, recognized the in- 
evitableness of it. Her hesitation was not from lack 
of love, not from cowardice. It was the hesitation 
which every earnest soul must feel when it comes to a 
parting in the road, and stands for one brief moment 
in the presence of the unknown and untried. 

But I was as discreet as a lover can be who really 
loves. I wanted the day to be perfect, something that 
Margaret and I could always remember with unalloyed 
pleasure. Impatient as I was, I would not have star- 
tled her by too abrupt speaking. She knew already 
that I loved her. We walked over the garden to- 
gether, as we had so often done, under the poplars, 
through the orchard, down on the quay, but to-day 
we added a walk that until then we had never taken 
together, the one along the haK-hidden path to the 
duke's summer house. I doubt not that Margaret 
had often taken it alone, but I had never been with 
her. I had saved our coming there together for this 

292 



MARGARET 



day. It was Margaret and not Miss Ravenel that I 
meant to take there. Margaret sat down on the 
marble seat facing the Lake just as I had meant that 
she shoidd do, and I sat opposite to her. She won- 
dered, she said, why the seat was there, for it seemed 
to her quite stupid to come to such a lovely spot and 
then turn one's back to the view. I told her the story 
of the summer house, the story as I had reconstructed 
it. I pointed out the dainty Italian workmanship, the 
partly erased flowers, and the little loves flying in and 
out among them. 

" The lovely Margherita sat there," said I, " just 
where you are sitting. She coidd see the beautifid 
blue sky and the deeper blue of the water, and be- 
tween them, the lovely brown and yellow and purple 
tints of the Swiss coast and the Juras. And the duke 
sat here, just where I am sitting, a little to one side 
so as not to interfere wdth the view, but still very near 
to the duchess." 

" And why are you so imkind to him as to make 
him out less a lover of Nature than was the lady ? '* 
asked Margaret, curiously, for as yet she did not guess 
the end of my story. 

" It was not that," said I, '' for he was passionately 
fond of Nature. This dear old garden proves it. But 
it seems that he loved the Lady Margherita even 
more. He had this seat constructed, so that while the 
lady looked towards heavon, ho could find it in li^r 
eyes." 

" It is a pretty fancy, Mr. Percyfield," said Mar- 
203 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



garet, gently, letting her eyes rest on the strongly 
lighted mountains. 

" You used to call me ' John,' once, Margaret." 

" It is a pretty fancy, then, John," she said, and the 
plain old name sounded very sweet from her lips, even 
the little hesitation that came from the newness of it. 
" How do you come to know so much about this gal- 
lant old duke?" 

" It was the insight of a lover, dear Margaret," I 
answered ; " I had hoped that sometime you might 
be sitting just where you are now, and that I might 
be opposite to you, just here. And I had hoped, dear 
Margaret, when I came to tell you of my love that I 
might find something better in your eyes than any 
view. I wanted to see the light of an answering 
love. Dear Margaret, dear heart, I love you with all 
the passion of my life. Will you take my love and 
keep it ? Will you be my dear wife ? Will you let 
me be your lover, your husband ? " I was no longer 
sitting. I had taken Margaret's hand. I was seek- 
ing my answer in those clear brown eyes. 

Margaret did not draw her hand away. She looked 
frankly and fearlessly into my own eager eyes. I 
found the priceless light that I wanted to find. I knew 
now beyond any peradventure that we two belonged 
to each other. It was some moments before Margaret 
spoke. Her voice was low, but as clear and vibrating 
as if she had been an angel bidding me, all unworthy as 
I was, to enter into paradise. I may not write down 
what Margaret said, for when a woman confesses 

294 



MARGARET 



her love to a man, it is something too sacred to be 
heard by any one else. But after that I did not sit 
opix)site to her, but on the bench by her side, and the 
first morning of our new life together slipped into the 
past. The old garden was another Eden, and I stood 
face to face with a new creation, the marvel of a 
woman's love. 

I know what a man's love is, an overwhelming tor- 
rent that sweeps everything else before it and obscures 
the whole face of creation. 

But I had yet to learn the force of a woman's love ; 
its tenderness, its devotion, the sweet yielding of itself. 
And the marvel of it often hushed me into silence. 

It is so natural to love Margaret that it seems to 
nie a thing that could not be helped. As I look at her 
and feast my hmigry eyes on her dear face, I feel that 
my love is as inevitable as destiny itself. But I marveled 
that Margaret should love me. I have read in the old 
mythology books in the library at Uplands how the 
goddesses in Olympus sometimes loved a mortal man, 
and it seemed to me that the fable was repeating itself. 
Margaret is everything a woman should be, beautiful, 
accomplished, high-spirited, the soul of goodness and 
truth. And I ? As you know, I am only a homely 
fellow with accomplishments so slender that it would 
be pitiful to name them. I have taste, but, as Char- 
lotte rightly says, no talent. I have nothing to com- 
mend me, nothing save my great love and my earnest- 
ness, yes, and thank God, an honorable, unspotted 
name. 

2d5 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



When I spoke to Margaret about these things, she 
took my hand in hers and said gravely, " Dear John, 
I do not know whence love comes, and I do not ques- 
tion it any more than I question the sunlight. But 
this I know, that in my heart I have loved you ever 
since we were children. In our play even, it came out. 
If you were Ivanhoe, I wanted to be Kowena, and 
though I was willful sometimes and teased and said 
I 'd never marry you, I knew all along I could never 
marry any one else." — " And you see I never did," 
she added triumphantly. Then after a moment, she 
said, " A woman's love is instinctive, and can give no 
account of itself. I think it is the soul that a woman 
loves. That must be strong and brave and pure. 
Do you know the name I gave you, when I began first 
to think about you very much some years ago. It was 
this," — she leaned over and w^hispered it to me, — 
" and by that name, I knew that I should always love 
you." 

It has not made me think more highly of myself 
than I ought, to have Margaret love me so much. It 
is no merit of mine, but the marvel of love itself. 
But this it has done for me, it has made me less 
and less conscious of myself and my shortcomings, and 
it has carried me into a broader, truer life. If at times 
I should ever grow a little weary and discouraged, as 
they say the bravest of us will when we try to live the 
life, I shall think of that high name by which I am 
known to Margaret alone, and I shall take heart 
again. 

296 



MARGARET 



There was no reason why all the world should not 
know the joy of our love, and so that very day at 
luncheon, with Margaret's and Mrs. RaveneFs per- 
mission, I announced the formal betrothal of Miss 
Margaret Ravenel, of New Orleans, and Mr. John 
Percyfield, of Philadelphia. 

I was much touched by the sweet kindness with 
wliich the announcement was received. No one was 
in the least surprised, and so I suppose I had been 
less skillful in concealing my feelings than I thought 
I had been. The Chatelaine had the vin ordinaire 
replaced by some choice old Spanish wine, and they 
all drank to Margaret's health and mine. The Chate- 
laine was as full of happiness as if we had been her 
own children. How I loved the dear little old lady. 
Her glistening eyes and motherly smile were constantly 
on either Margaret or me. England and Ireland, too, 
were beautiful in their interest and sympathy. The 
busy world sometimes forgets that we need sympathy 
in our happiness as well as in our sorrow. These three 
women, no longer young themselves, save in their feel- 
ings, will ever have a warm spot in my affections, for 
I shall remember that at a time of great joy they en- 
tered into it with me. 

Scotland alone was crotchetj'. She said not a word 
of congratulation, and before any of us knew it, had 
slipped out of the room altogether. I concluded that 
something had gone amiss between her and her bare- 
legged laird, and that perhaps it pained her to see 
Margaret and me so happy. 

297 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



But my greatest surprise was dear Mrs. Ravenel. 
I felt guilty at the thought of asking her for Mar- 
garet. The Yankees had robbed Mrs. Ravenel of 
husband and father, and, now in her old age, it seemed 
almost cruel for another Yankee to come along and 
ask her for all she had left, — her daughter. I should 
not have blamed Mrs. Ravenel had she refused me 
outright. I had made up my mind that I would wait 
for Margaret as long as need be and that I would be 
as considerate as possible to this gentle old lady whom 
time had so strangely mellowed and whom I loved for 
her own sake as well as for Margaret's. I went to 
Mrs. Ravenel timidly, for I felt that I was asking so 
much. But I found again the depths of a mother's 
love. Mrs. Ravenel's own married life had been very 
brief, — Margaret had never seen her father, — but it 
had been singularly happy, and she wished the same 
happiness for Margaret. Mrs. Ravenel told me sweetly 
that she should not feel that she was losing a daughter, 
but rather that she was gaining a son. I promised 
myself as well as her that that was what Margaret's 
marriage should mean. After luncheon, when Mar- 
garet was not present, Mrs. Ravenel told me how un- 
certain she felt the tenure of her own life to be, and 
how deeply happy she was to feel that Margaret had 
a strong heart to lean upon in the hour of sorrow that 
was so soon coming. I felt now that I could not give 
Mrs. Ravenel up. I tried to persuade her that she 
was stronger, and that we should be keeping her with 
us for many long years to come. But Mrs. Ravenel 

298 



MARGARET 



shook her head sadly and told me that already she 
felt the near presence of the death angel. She begged 
me, however, not to say anything to Margaret, for she 
wanted her present happiness to be as complete as pos- 
sible. It was the easier to do this as I persuaded my- 
self that Mrs. Ravenel was mistaken. 

Aunt Viney's delight was unbounded. She had al- 
ways been very fond of me. I think I stood next to 
Margaret in the old woman's heart, as Margaret did to 
Mrs. Ravenel. But Aunt Viney was even more obsti- 
nate than the rest of the Chateau in declining to be 
the least bit surprised. She laid claim to very ancient 
knowledge of this modern affair of the heart. " Go 
'long, honey," she said to me, '' I knowed it when you 
and Mis' Marg'ret was both of you chillens. I done 
tole Pompey that Mis' Marg'ret and Marsa John 'ud 
be a-gittin' married some o' these days." 

In my happiness I did not forget Charlotte. Mar- 
garet and I each wrote her a long letter, and sent them 
off in the same envelope. But it seemed a slow way 
of forwarding good news. It would take almost two 
weeks for Charlotte to know, so in the twilight Alar- 
garet and I walked up to the village, and I sent a 
cal)legram to Charlotte. On the way Margaret and I 
amused ourselves composing possible messages, but all 
along I knew very well what I should say. We kept 
up the fun during the whole walk. It takes very little 
to make lovers happy. All I needed was to have Mar- 
garet with me. When we got to the telegraph office, I 
surprised her by writing, — " Margaret is the determi- 

299 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



nate good," and that is the message I sent to Charlotte. 
I knew that she would understand. But I had to ex- 
plain the message to Margaret, and after it had been 
sent off under the sea to the dear Charlotte, Margaret 
slipped her arm through mine, and said softly, " And 
together, John, we will seek the indeterminate good, 
you and I." In the darkness I stooped over and 
kissed her lightly on the forehead. It was a kiss that 
had been waiting for a dozen long years. 

It was now late in June. The fruit trees had lost 
their riotous bloom, and in its stead the fruit was tak- 
ing form. The shrubbery was heavy with its fresh 
green foliage. The summer flowers had followed those 
of spring. The long brilliant days and the warm 
genial nights made life a veritable holiday. At the 
Chateau, the days came and went much as they did 
before, save that for Margaret and me they had an 
added richness. Indeed we tried to keep the days 
much as they had been. In our own deep happiness, 
we wanted not to be selfish, and be forever slipping 
away from the others for the delightful little inter- 
views that were so dear to us. In fact I saw a little 
less of Margaret than formerly, for by common con- 
sent, and without any word's being spoken, we drew 
Mrs. Kavenel more and more into our plans, spending 
long afternoons sitting with her in the garden, talking 
or reading aloud or idly breathing in the bounty of 
summer warmth and color. When occasionally Mar- 
garet and I went off on our wheels, we carried the 
Chatelaine with us as often as she could be persuaded 

300 



MARGARET 



to go. It would be very hard on the Chatelaine when 
the Ravenels left, and I wanted her to see just as 
much of Margaret as possible. 

For myself it seemed to me that every day I loved 
Margaret the more, she was so good not only to me 
but to every one else. 

Mrs. Ravenel and Margaret had arranged to sail 
for America the latter part of July. The Beauregards 
had a cottage at York Harbor, and the Ravenels were 
promised to them for August. As soon as it got cool 
enough in the fall, Mrs. Ravenel and Margaret in- 
tended to go back to Arlington. So it became neces- 
sary as well as pleasant for us to be thinking of the 
future. My own plans had been equally definite. I 
was to go to England in July and spend a couple of 
months among the social workers in London. I meant 
to make Mansfield House my headquarters. I had 
exj^ected to be back in Philadelphia the latter part of 
September. But now I was eager to change all these 
plans. If I could have had my own way, I should have 
married Margaret then and there. I could imagine 
no more delightful spot for a wedding than our beauti- 
ful old Chateau, and no more acceptable time than the 
iumiediate present. But for once at least my habit of 
theorizing was a real help, and gave me a patience 
which I might otherwise not have had. I had always 
thought that a wedding ought to be arranged absolutely 
to suit the bride, that in every detail it ought to be as 
she would like to have it, the one most perfect day of 
her life. It would have been unpardonable selfishness 

301 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



on my part to intrude a single wish, for to have my su- 
preme wish gratified, to have Margaret my dear wife 
forever, made every other wish seem unimportant. 
Consequently there was little change in our proposed 
plans. It was arranged that I should go with Margaret 
and Mrs. Ravenel to England the middle of July and 
see them safely off on their steamer. Then, with such 
grace as I could command, I was to settle down to 
my social studies at Mansfield House, and sail a couple 
of months later, just as 1 had expected to do. The 
wedding was to be early in October at Arlington. 
Since I might not be married at the Chateau, there 
was no spot in all the world more welcome than our 
dear old Arlington. 

Margaret and I talked over the guests. There 
were two that I should sadly miss, my mother and my 
grandfather Percyfield, but I knew they would be 
there in memory, a very real presence. There would 
be Charlotte and Frederic and the small boy and my 
aunt Percyfield, and a whole carload of other Per- 
cyfields and Marstons. Margaret quite agreed with 
me that it would be wise just to charter a Pullman 
and have it run through to New Orleans. Then 
from New Orleans itself there would be Ravenels and 
Lees and Masons and Beaumonts, cousins to the fifth 
and sixth generation, and no end of intimate friends. 
It is well that Arlington is fairly large, and that the 
drawing-room and dining-room open with wide folding 
doors into the hall. I counted on Peyton as best man, 
Margaret was sure that I might, and I knew the mu- 

302 



MARGARET 



sician would want to play for us with his ovm hands. 
Each detail of this wedding was very precious, and I 
had to speak of it often to keep me in heart for the 
long separation of the summer. Margaret humored 
me in this, and took a sweet delight in it herself. It 
never occurred to me that the separation would be hard 
for her. You must not think that this was very self- 
ish. It was only that I still found it an impossible 
thought that Margaret could love me as much as I 
loved her. Even when I called up her secret name 
for me, and experienced each day her tender, unselfish 
love, it seemed preposterous that life for her could 
centre so completely in me, as for me it did in her. 
It was no lack of faith in Margaret. It was only that 
I was but slowly laying hold of this great marvel of a 
woman's love. 

So we came apparently to our last days at the Cha- 
teau, — fidl, ripe days of perfect peace and happiness. 
It had meant from the first a great deal to me to live 
under the same roof with Margaret, and day by day 
to enjoy our simple comradeship. And when I came 
to love her, it meant infinitely more. It was a sweet 
prelude to the holier intimacy of marriage. It seemed 
to me that we were day by day adjusting our lives to 
each other, and preparing ourselves half consciously 
and all devoutly for the high festival of our love. As I 
came more and more to know what love meant, and 
the wonder of it, I felt a certain awe of Margaret. 
She became for me something very sacred. I had the 
lover's mstinct to want to be near her and to touch 

303 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



her. I would fain have stretched out my strong arms 
and encircled her and drawn her to myself, and yet I 
could not have touched so much as the hem of her 
garment Tvithout her consent. If she but haK with- 
drew her hand from mine, I must needs let it go, 
though I would have kept it there forever. 

I had supposed that one could love and not be 
loved, but it seems that one cannot. It is only the 
prelude. Love itself comes when there are two lov- 
ing, and then only is it in full measure and perfect. 
And in those quiet days, when we began to speak of 
the future, and of our plans when we should come 
again to America, my fancy saw the home that I had 
planned, now doubly dear since Margaret was to be at 
the head of it. 

Very tenderly and very reverently I thought of the 
children who might be born to us as the sign and 
symbol of our love, and already I was wishing that 
they might resemble Margaret in everything, and me 
only in the great love I bore her. And when I 
thought that there might, perhaps, be a httle Margaret 
like the child that I had loved, and perhaps a Httle 
son whom we might call Jack, it seemed to me that 
my life had indeed become a beautiful fairy tale that 
had suddenly been made true. 

I would have celebrated this coming of the deter- 
minate good by the idlest loitering, by anything that 
would have kept me near Margaret. But she would 
not have it so. She bade me go on with my work and 
do better than my best if I really wanted to please 

304: 



MARGARET 



her. And she herself was even more devoted to Mrs. 
Ravenel than formerly. We read a great deal those 
long summer afternoons, for Mrs. Ravenel was able 
to drive only very short distances, and to walk hardly 
at all. I remember that we read aloud Max Miiller's 
Deutsche Liebe. Margaret liked it much, for she 
said it was pure sentiment without the least touch of 
sentimentality. And she liked what my grandfather 
Percyfield had written about strength and gentleness 
on the fly-leaf of my copy. Margaret bade me, if ever 
I wrote a novel or a love story, to make it like Miil- 
ler's, and to let it be about love as I discovered it and 
experienced it, and not any shabby, second-hand pic- 
ture of what I thought it might be, or could be, or 
ought to be. But I only laughed and told her that it 
was much better to live a love story than to write one. 
I said I wanted our love story not to be memories, but 
an ever present reality. Margaret was standing by 
my chair as I spoke. She stooped over and kissed me 
shyly on the forehead. It was the first time that she 
had ever kissed me since we were childi^en together. 
I caught her hand in mine, and looked up into her 
illumined face. I knew that come what would, come 
what could, this love of ours was a reality and eternaL 



305 



CHAPTER XI 

THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

We had reached our last week at the Chateau. We 
began to feel the coming separation. We began to 
feel, too, what it would mean to leave our enchanted 
castle and the kind Chatelaine. Our material pre- 
parations were easily made. Aunt Viney always 
packed for Margaret and Mrs. Ravenel, and my own 
packing as a matter of principle is invariably left 
until the very last evening, so that the spirit of unrest 
may not claim me for its own one moment sooner than 
is necessary. But we found it harder to make the 
more subtle preparations, to say good-by to all our 
favorite haunts, and to get ourselves mentally ready 
to go. Margaret and I had many spots to visit. We 
had to go once more with the Chatelaine to Yvoire 
the beautiful, and drink afternoon tea with Madame 
Thonon. We had to climb to La Capite, and exult 
for the last time over the marvelous beauty of Mont 
Blanc at sunset. Then we had to have a long row 
on the Lake, and go once more for some final music 
with Mademoiselle Werner. And there were nearer 
haunts to be lingered over, the dormer window in the 
north tower, the duke's summer house, every path and 

306 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

comer of our old garden. It was a slow process, say- 
ing good-by. 

Mrs. Ravenel had seemed stronger than usual, for 
the prospect of going back to America was evidently 
as grateful to her as it was to Aunt Viney. The 
excitement produced a show of health which deceived 
all of us. 

It had been raining that evening. There was a 
constant downpour, and the monotonous dripping of 
water as it fell from the eaves into the little puddles 
on the ground. But in the drawing-room it was bright 
and cheery, and we had a particularly jolly time. 
Mrs. Ravenel was with us. The United Kingdom was 
at its best. The Chatelaine was full of Swiss stories 
and anecdotes. Margaret sang and played for us. 
Altogether it was one of those evenings that you like 
to remember. You cannot arrange for them. They 
just come of themselves, born of a lot of happy circum- 
stances that you cannot quite foresee. 

It was about eleven o'clock when we separated for 
the night. I stopped in the drawing-room and prac- 
ticed until midnight. Then I went upstairs to bed, 
and directly to sleep. I must have slept for an hour 
or more when I was wakened by a knock at my 
door. I am the only one who sleeps in the south 
tower, and I thought at first that I must have made a 
mistake. But the knock was repeated, louder than 
before. I jum}>ed out of bed and openeil the door. 
It was Aunt Viney. Her face was almost pale, and 
the distressed look in her eyes told me that something 

307 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



serious was the matter. My heart almost stood still 
when I thought that perhaps Margaret was ill. '' For 
God's sake, Aunt Viney, what is the matter ? " I 
cried. 

Aunt Viney was so grief-smitten that she could 
only speak slowly, " Oh, Marsa John, Mis' Lucy 's 
done took drefful ill, and Mis' Marg'ret she says will 
yo' please come to her soon as yo' can." 

I charged the poor old woman to call the Chate- 
laine, and then I lighted my candle and dressed as 
quickly as I could. I remembered what Mrs. Ravenel 
had told me, and instinctively I felt that it was the 
death angel. I hurried over to the north tower, my 
heart overfull with sorrow, for I knew only too well 
what dreadful grief was in store for Margaret and for 
faithful Aunt Viney. 

When I reached Mrs. Ravenel's room, I found 
Margaret and Aunt Viney and the Chatelaine gath- 
ered around the bedside. The room was lighted by a 
single candle, which threw a feeble, flickering light 
over the grief-stricken group. I would fain have 
believed for a moment that the scene was unreal, a 
dreadful dream that would pass if I could only rouse 
myself. But the pressure of Margaret's hand and the 
sight of her white, pitiful face drove this last hope 
out of me. I knew that I stood in the near presence 
of death. 

Happily Mrs. Ravenel herself was not suffering. 
Could we but have known it, she had been slowly 
dying for many weeks past, and so' gently was her 

308 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

spirit disentangling itself from the spent boily that 
there was none of that fierce struggle for life that is 
seen when a strong man meets his death. On the 
contrary, it was but the completion of a process that 
Mrs. Ravenel herself had clearly foreseen. Now that 
the supreme moment had come, it was a moment of 
triumph rather than defeat. A sweet peace seemed to 
envelop Mrs. Ravenel, and even to touch the white 
faces at her bedside. 

Death is an august thing, and in its presence a 
noble soul may not think of the self, but only of that 
other soul which is meeting this tremendous experi- 
ence. It was so with Margaret and even with Aunt 
Viney. They were beyond the point of tears, and 
were in that calm which is the breath of the tomb 
itself. The Chatelaine was quietly weeping. 

Mrs. Ravenel opened her eyes. There was in them 
the joy of one who comes into her own again, that last 
intense spark which greets us before the spirit is gone. 
With much effort, Mrs. Ravenel sought out each face, 
Margaret's, Aunt Viney's, the Chatelaine's, mine, lin- 
gering on each, but longest on Margaret's and mine. 
Mrs. Ravenel could not speak to us, but I understood 
the look of perfect satisfaction that came into her 
face. She was going to the husband of her youth, to 
the festival of renewed love, and she was glad to 
leave Margaret with me. Then the fire went out of 
her eyes, the spark was spent, and we knelt in the 
presence of the dead. 

When Margaret realized that it was indeed death, 
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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



she buried her face in her hands, and Aunt Viney no 
longer restrained her sobs. 

The Chatelaine had ceased weeping, and her eyes 
were very bright. " Look," she whispered eagerly to 
me, and there in the uncertain light of this chamber 
of present death I saw a faint gray cloud detach itself 
from the quiet body, like a symbol of the spirit that 
was passing, and ascend into the void space above us. 
I dared not speak to Margaret, for had she failed to 
see it, it would have been a cruel interruption, prob- 
ably a cruel disappointment. It was a pale silver 
cloud, in substance like the luminous aureole that 
I had once seen about my own body, and of which 
I have already made mention. Had it not been 
for the Chatelaine, I should have counted it an illu- 
sion born of my own mental habit of imaging events. 
As it is, I think always of Mrs. Ravenel as I saw 
her in that brief moment, a gracious figure untouched 
by age or grief ; and I can think of her no longer 
as the feeble gentlewoman who came to our dear 
Chateau de Beau-Rivage to exchange old age for 
youth, and to pass before us into the undiscovered 
country. 

After a time, Margaret yielded to my earnest en- 
treaty, and went with me into the drawing-room, while 
I begged the Chatelaine to care for Aunt Viney. I 
was fearful that in the first frenzy of her grief the 
old woman might destroy herself. To her, " Mis' 
Lucy " was the world. They had been children to- 
gether in the old slave days, and Viney had belonged 

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to her little mistress in soul and heart as well as body. 
The emancipation proclamation had never reached her. 
She had accepted what she needed in the way of food 
and clothing, but never any other wage. It ha^l been 
a service of love for a whole lifetime. Now it was 
ended, and the grief-smitten old woman stood alone, 
in many ways the most bereaved of all of us. I had 
great influence with Aunt Viney, both because of her 
love and her belief in my supernatural powers. I 
knew that I could bring her thought to Margaret and 
me, somewhat later, but now my whole thought was 
with Margaret. I said a few hurried words of caution 
to the Chatelaine in French, and I knew that I could 
depend upon her in any emergency. 

I made up a fire in the drawing-room, for the night 
had that shuddering chill upon it which is noticeable 
even in summer just before the dawn. Then I lighted 
several lamps and carefully shaded them, so that the 
room itself might help me in my ministrations to Mar- 
garet. I made her sit down before the fire in the high- 
backed chair that England usually occupied. I saw 
that Mrs. Ravenel's chair was pushed back into a cor- 
ner. I drew my own chair up to Margaret's, and 
there we sat the rest of that dreadful night, her hand 
in mine, and both of us still in the presence of the 
dead. We said very little, for it was too soon to 
offer any word of comfort. I could only concentrate 
my presence on Margaret, and make her feel the warm, 
luunan love which wrapped her about, as with a gar- 
ment, and shared her sorrow to the full. In these 

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JOHN PEECYFIELD 



supreme moments of life, one does not wish to talk. 
It is the spirit and the silence that speak. 

Margaret and I sat there before the fire imtil the 
day was fiiUy come, and the warm summer sun had 
quite put out the feeble light of our shaded lamps. 
We neither of us had any sense of the passing time. 
At last I was aroused by a gentle knock on the door. 
It was England. She came over to us and laid her 
hand caressingly on Margaret's hair. " My poor chil- 
dren " — she said. Then her voice choked, and she 
could say no more. But she had spoken, and we both 
understood ; we felt the comfort of her presence. After 
a time, England took Margaret away with her and put 
her to bed. 

I went upstairs and dressed. It was a source of 
unspeakable comfort to me that Mrs. Ravenel had felt 
as she did towards me, and that in all of the sad duties 
that would soon be pressing I had the right to act as 
her son. I had scarcely finished dressing when Marie 
came to the door with a card. It was Mademoiselle 
Werner. I hastened down to the drawing-room, much 
touched by the prompt kindness of this unusual friend. 
If, however, I had not understood Mademoiselle Wer- 
ner as well as I did, I should have been shocked by 
her appearance. It was as if a brightly colored but- 
terfly had come into a tomb. Mademoiselle Werner 
was dressed in one of her very gay summer costumes, 
and her fi^esh, childlike face was as radiant as if she 
had come to a wedding. At first I thought that she 
could not know of Mrs. Ravenel's death. I suppose 

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my face must have expressed as much, for Mademoiselle 
Werner hastened to undeceive me : " Yes, my friend," 
she said, taking my hand in hers, " I know all. I came 
to you as soon as I could. It is at first a very great 
shock, is it not ? But, Monsieur, you must have known, 
for it is a thing that has been coming towards you for 
many weeks. You must have felt it and known it. 
When it fell upon you last night, it was terrible for 
Mademoiselle Margaret. I remember how I felt when 
ray own dear mother died," — the tears filled her eyes, 
but the radiant smile did not waver for an instant, — 
*' but when one is happy to go, we would not wish to 
detain them. We wish for our friends their heart's 
desire, do we not ? Yes, I knew that you would say 
so. Ought we to hesitate, then. Monsieur, even at the 
grave ? No, we must not be guilty of this great self- 
ishness. You know ^vith me, do you not, that Madame 
has found her heart's desire ? Can you and the young 
girl not believe this, and calm your gi*ief? May I 
speak to Mademoiselle Margaret? May I tell her 
that it is so very well with Madame, her mother ? " 

I hardly knew what to answer. I was not sure that 
Margaret would understand. I said that I would see. 
I went directly to the Chatelaine to ask her ad\nce. 
She thought it would be all right, and came herself to 
take Mademoiselle Werner to Margaret. 

I waited impatiently in the drawing-room, so anx- 
ious that Margaret should have every j)ossible consola- 
tion, and yet so fearful that Ma<lemoiselle Werner's 
visit might be a mistake. More than an hour passed, 

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JOHN PERCYFIELD 



When at last, Mademoiselle Werner rejoined me, I 
saw at once by the exaltation in her face that she felt 
her visit to have been successful. She sat down by 
the window that looks out on the Lake, and for a time 
she seemed to forget my presence, she was so absorbed 
in thought. When at last she turned to me, her 
whole manner had completely changed. There was a 
look of great weariness in her face. She looked curi- 
ously hke a tired child. She wished to speak to me, 
she said, about the funeral. And now I was to meet 
as great a surprise as any that I had experienced with 
this strange being, this Fantasy Child, as she so rightly 
called herself. She spoke to me about the practical 
details of the funeral with a wisdom and a common- 
sense that a strong man, quite unacquainted with Mrs. 
Ravenel and untouched by any emotion, might perhaps 
have shown. I Hstened incredulously, but with in- 
creasing attention, for the arrangements she proposed 
were far beyond an}i:hing I could have planned myself. 
Even as I listened, I could not help seeing that Made- 
moiselle Werner's plans owed their splendid mastery 
to an idea, and could never have been debased by a 
simply practical person. The idea underlying every- 
thing was to spare Margaret. 

That it had cost Mademoiselle Werner very dear to 
live all this out in her imagination showed itself in 
her face. I felt more deeply grateful to her for this 
than even for the strange help that she had tried to 
give me in the matter of the music. I must not dwell 
on all these sad details, but simple gratitude to Made- 

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moiselle Werner compels me to make some record of 
them. 

Mademoiselle Werner wished that the thought of 
death might remain with Margaret the shortest pos- 
sible time. She wished to separate the idea from the 
Chateau, and from Margaret's life at once, and to fix 
Margaret's thought upon the living mother, first in 
the past and then under what Mademoiselle Werner 
conceived to be the far happier and more glorious con- 
ditions of the present. For Mademoiselle Werner 
has so absolute a faith in immortality that one can- 
not be with her for any leng-th of time without in some 
measure sharing it. I had come to this same behef 
by a different path and needed no conversion. But I 
had not the wit to act upon my belief in the splendid 
way that Mademoiselle Werner acted upon hers. I 
had thought to have a simple funeral service at the 
Chateau, and then to proceed to the Protestant burial 
ground at the village. But Mademoiselle Werner 
showed me at once that this would be to fix the idea 
of death in connection with the Chateau, while what 
we wanted was to make Margaret remember only the 
happy days that Mrs. Ravenel had spent here. Made- 
moiselle Werner's plan was to have the service and 
burial at the beautiful little cemetery at Clarens, the one 
looking out towards the Dent du Midi and the solemn 
snow-covered Alps, the one where Amiel sleeps. Mar- 
garet had never been there. It would be a strange, 
sudden experience, quite unconnected with her daily 
life, and less likely to intrude into her gentler mem- 

315 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



ories. I owed the suggestion to Mademoiselle AVer- 
ner also that we should go by boat directly from the 
Chateau to the cemetery. I did not consult Mar- 
garet about any of the details. I simply asked her if 
she would be willing to leave everything to me, and 
let me do what seemed for the best, and she said that 
she was quite willing. So I left her most of the 
time, as indeed I had to, to England and the Chate- 
laine. 

It was a strange little cortege that swept up our 
beautiful Leman from the Chateau de Beau-Rivage to 
the sacred ground at Clarens. Besides Margaret and 
Aunt Viney and myseK, there were only the United 
Kingdom, the Chatelaine, Mademoiselle Werner, and 
our good neighbors. Monsieur and Madame du Chene. 
To make the journey as short as possible, I had se- 
cured, through Monsieur du Chene's great kindness, 
the loan of one of the fastest steam yachts registered 
in the club at Geneva. When we went on board, the 
coffin was already in position under the awning on 
the rear deck. It had been placed there unknown to 
Margaret, while we were making a pretense of break- 
fast in the salle a manger. Mademoiselle Werner 
would have no flowers. She wished to save them 
from any association with the grave. A coffin is a 
terrible thing. It would have been insupportable to 
sit there on the deck, staring at it during the whole of 
our sad voyage. Mademoiselle Werner had provided 
against that. The coffin was buried under the volu- 
minous folds of a great American flag. Margaret 

316 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

started perceptibly when she saw it. I knew what 
she was thinking about. It seemed for the moment 
an odd destiny that this gentlewoman, who had sac- 
rificed everything for the flag of the Confederacy, 
should now be going to her grave wrapi>ed in the Stars 
and Stripes, and that one of her chief mourners 
should be a Yankee lad whom she had once mistrusted 
and disliked. But I would not have changed it if I 
could. It seemed to symbolize that now all the mis- 
takes of the past had been blotted out once for all, 
and that this gentle friend, whom I sincerely mourned 
for her own sake as well as for Margaret's, had died 
as completely reconciled to the manifest destiny of 
Louisiana, as she had been reconciled to me. I 
pressed Margaret's hand and the answering pressure 
told me that it was all right. 

The awnings on the yacht hung low, so that we 
could see little but the sparklmg blue water as it 
rushed past us. Mademoiselle Werner, with a single- 
ness of purpose such as I have never experienced be- 
fore, had arranged Margaret's chair on the outer side 
of the boat so that she might not see the Chateau. 
The awnings hid the Juras. 

Aunt Viney sat on one side of Margaret, and I on 
the other. Aunt Viney behaved remarkably well. 
In some ways the tragedy was deepest for her. Her 
devotion to Mrs. Ravenel antedated even Margaret's 
by more than a score of years, and it hiul been ab- 
solutely single-hearted. Nor had Aunt Viney our 
compensations. I had talked with her several times 

317 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



and tried to make her see that " Mis' Lucy " would 
be best pleased if she controlled herself and did all 
she could for Miss Margaret. I told her, too, what I 
had seen at the bedside of the dying woman, and how 
very sure I was that now Miss Lucy was entirely happy 
and was with Marsa LeRoy and old Marsa Lee. It 
was touching to see Aunt Viney's utter confidence in 
all that I said, and the heroic fidelity with which she 
tried to think always of Margaret and never of herself. 

Presently the silence of our journey was broken by 
Mademoiselle Werner's voice. She was singing. It 
was not a dirge, a requiem, but something soft and 
sweet and human, with a strange undercurrent of 
triumph in it. To Mademoiselle Werner, death was a 
species of triumph, and I knew in my heart that she 
envied the dead woman for whose sake we were mak- 
ing this strange, solenm voyage. It was impossible 
for Margaret to restrain her tears, and in truth I was 
glad to have them flow, for her calm frighteued me 
more than any expression of grief. 

At Clarens, there was another nicety of arrange- 
ment, for which I had to thank the dear Chatelaine. 
We got at once into the waiting carriages, before the 
flag was touched. Then we were driven by a some- 
what roundabout way to the cemetery itself. When 
we got there, the coffin was already in the grave, and 
the great flag concealed it. The clergyman from the 
neighboring church at Montreux read the Anglican 
service for the dead, — beautiful and solemn in its re- 
verence and in its assurance of immortality. It is a 

318 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

supreme moment, standing for the last time in the 
visible presence of the dead. But every influence of 
comfort and peace had been brought to bear upon us, 
and it had not been without effect. When the clergy- 
man dropped the handful of eaii:h into the open grave, 
as is required by his office, it fell silently upon the 
thick folds of the flag, and Margaret was spared the 
crudest sound in all of our too cruel burial customs, 
the sound of earth falling on the coffin of some one 
you love, a thud that strikes against the very portals 
of the heart, and in the still watches of the night 
strikes and strikes again until it seems as if you must 
go crazy. Then Mademoiselle Werner sang once more, 
not something from the Hymnal, but an old Gregorian 
chant which she knew Margaret would not be likely 
ever to hear again. 

The kind Monsieur du Chene remained at the grave 
and afterwards he attended to having a suitable stone 
erected for me. You will find it at the third turnins: 
after you pass the gTave of Amiel. It is a simple white 
stone, ^' In Loving Memory of Lucy, daughter of Gen- 
eral Archibald Lee, and wife of Lieutenant LeRoy 
Ravenel, of New Orleans." The two lines that follow 
were written by Margaret. 

We drove quickly to the railroad station. The 
yacht meanwhile had disappeared. It would have been 
too cruel to have gone back to the Chateau on board 
of her, with that dreadful empty space under the awn- 
ing on the rear deck, a space into which we could not 
penetrate and from which we could not withdraw our 

319 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



thoughts. Nor would it have been consistent with 
Mademoiselle Werner's plan. It was easy to secure 
a couple of compartments for the ride to Geneva, and 
from there we drove out to the Chateau. 

How wonderfully kind the world is at all times, 
and especially when one is in sorrow ! The gentle- 
women at the Chateau had endeared themselves to me 
in a thousand ways before this, but now they seemed 
more hke kinswomen than friends of only a year's 
standing. In all things they were so good to Mar- 
garet. They helped me to make her feel that the 
world was stiU full of warm, human love and sympathy ; 
and by the sweet, natural way in which they spoke of 
Mrs. Ravenel they strengthened Mademoiselle Werner 
and me in our effort to have Margaret think of her 
mother as one who had gone into another country, but 
who had not for a moment ceased to be. 

The two weeks following Mrs. Eavenel's funeral 
were dreadfully, pitiably sad. I trembled for Mar- 
garet's health. For a time, the intensity of her grief 
admitted of no comfort. Margaret did not want to 
grieve me, and she was touchingly grateful for all that 
was done for her, but the very strength of her nature 
made the sense of loss overwhelming. I knew that she 
was not weakly giving way to her grief. I could see 
that she was making a brave fight against it. But my 
heart ached me sore to see her suffer so. I had to keep 
telling myseK that in the end she must win through. 

It was a trifle over two weeks later that Aunt Viney 
came to my door early one morning while I was still 

320 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

dressing to say that Miss Margaret would breakfast 
with me in the salle a manger and to ask what hour 
it should be. After Mrs. Ravenel's death, the Chate- 
laine had taken Margaret to her own ai)artments and 
always had her breakfast served there. I was re- 
joiced to have this word from Margaret, for I knew 
what it meant. It meant that Margaret had returned 
to life again. I sent word to come when she would, 
and she should find me gladly awaiting her there. I 
hastily finished dressing, putting aside the black tie 
that I had intended to wear, and substituting a more 
cheerful one. I went downstairs with a light heart. I 
did not have to wait long for Margaret. As soon as 
she oj^ened the door, my heart leaped for joy, for I saw 
that a great change had taken place in my dear lady. 
She w^ore one of those simple white gowns that I call 
dimity, and better still she wore her old glad smile 
again. I went to meet her with outstretched hands. 
She took them both in hers. Then she dropped them, 
and put her arms around me and kissed me. "• John," 
she whispered, " I have been very selfish. Mother " — 
her voice trembled, but she went on bravely, — ^' mother 
would not like me to have given way as I hav^' <lnno. 
But I am myself now." 

My brave Margaret ! she had not been in the least 
selfish. You may be sure that I denied it. She had 
simply been overwhelmed with grief, the first deep 
grief of her life, and as I held her there in my arms, 
I prayed God that it might be the only one. 

To have Margaret with me, and in this happier 
321 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



frame of mind, made me so boyishly light-hearted that 
I had to restrain myself, lest I womid her with my too 
high spirits. But the change in Margaret was very 
deep. Often there was a pitiful tremble to her lips, 
or the sudden filling of her eyes with tears, but she put 
them resolutely away and was her brave sweet self 
again. Nor would Margaret let me avoid the mention 
of her mother. Margaret seemed to like to speak of 
her, and it was better so. To forget our dead, or to 
put them into the oblivion of silence is to smother 
grief, not to conquer it. The only way we can conquer 
grief is to accept it, face it, live with it, and then with 
the help of that love which makes our grief, but is 
deeper than any grief, we shall in the end win through. 
I have not tried to make Margaret think that this 
sorrow can ever pass completely out of her hfe, for I 
know too well that such may not be. But I know that 
if nobly borne, as I am sure that she will bear it, the 
bitterness, the poison of it, will be sucked out by time, 
and her love will always be greater than her sorrow. 

After breakfast we went into the garden. Margaret 
asked me how I had been spending my mornings, and 
she asked very particularly about my work. I had to 
answer that I had been working as usual, but that it 
had not amounted to much, for I had been thinking 
all the time of her. Margaret said that this must 
not be so any more. Then she spoke of my stay in 
London and her desire that I should be carrying out 
my plans. I, too, had been thinking about this, but 
more because I knew that, sooner or later, Margaret 

322 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

would ask about the matter, and I had determined, 
plans or no plans, that at such a moment 1 would 
not leave her. I had rather vague ideas about how 
we might satisfy the proprieties, but I tried to keep 
them in mind, for Mrs. Ravenel and indeed all of 
Margaret's people were very conventional, and I would 
not for the world have done any tiling contrary to 
what Mrs. Ravenel woiUd have \vished, or anything 
that would distress the New Orleans relatives. But 
all the same, I meant to stay with Margaret, to cross 
the ocean with her, to go with her to New Orleans, to 
marry her, and nev^er to leave her until the summons 
came from that higher power to which in the end we 
must intrust all things. I thought in a nebulous sort 
of way that perhaps the Chatelaine would go with us 
to America and would care for Margaret, though I 
knew the plan was too selfish ever to meet Margaret's 
approval. 

But Margaret also had been thinking. She had 
foreseen this opjwsition of mine and had brave plans 
for sending me off to London, and going home herself 
somewhat later with Aunt Viney, by way of Genoa 
and the Mediterranean service. But I think tliat 
Margaret was relieved that she did not have to carry 
these brave plans out, for you may be quite sure that 
I would never consent to any such arrangement. It 
was not a time for separation. If ever Margaret 
needed me in her life she needed me now, and I meant 
to serve her, come what would. 

When Margaret had satisfied all her scruples by 
323 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



finding every other plan quite impossible, she said to 
me as shyly as if she had been a princess, and com- 
pelled by reasons of court etiquette to ask some 
smaller dignitary to marry her, " Then, John, I will 
go to London with you as your wife. We will be 
married here at the Chateau." 

I put my arms around Margaret and pressed her 
warm cheek to mine. "Dear Margaret," I cried, 
" dear wife; " and afterwards it seemed to me that this 
had been our true wedding service, the plighting of 
our troth before God. 

I had thought of this plan, but it had seemed ungen- 
erous for me to propose it after Margaret herself had 
once rejected it. But to have Margaret propose it her- 
self cleared away all difficulties at once, and made me 
very, very happy. So anxious was Margaret to be 
entirely unselfish in all her plans and to help on my 
work in every way in her power that she would have 
married me in two or three days had I but said the 
word. If I had consulted my own inclinations I would 
have had the wedding that afternoon, so that I might 
have the right to stay with Margaret always and com- 
fort her with my ever-present love. But I put off the 
wedding for a full fortnight, naming a date somewhat 
more than a month after Mrs. Ravenel's death. It 
seemed to me that in this new attitude of mind the 
quiet life at the Chateau would do more to restore 
Margaret than would any other possible plan. Thanks 
to Mademoiselle Werner's great tact and goodness, 
the associations here had been made as little painful 

324 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

as could be. Then, too, a wedding day had always 
seemed to me an occasion of the first moment, the 
consummation of the deepest experience that can come 
into the life of a true man or woman, and I wanted 
Margaret to meet her wedding day wuth the largest 
measure of gladness that the circumstances made pos- 
sible. 

The arrangements for our very quiet and unexpected 
wedding were too simple to require much time or 
attention, and so in a modified way Margaret and I 
resumed many of the habits of our former life. Mar- 
garet absolved me from all work and allowed me to be 
with her nearly the whole of the waking day. They 
were grave, quiet days, not untouched with moments 
of deep sorrow, but I look back upon them as days of 
profound happiness. To have Margaret with me so 
constantly was itself a great boon, and she drew nearer 
to me than had been possible before. When Mar- 
garet came to the Chateau, she came quite untouched 
by any great sorrow. In my own life, in spite of its 
brave show of high spirit, there is the impress of a 
double loss, the death of my grandfather Percj^ield 
and the greater tragedy of my mother's death. I had 
been living all of this over again these past few days, 
and so perfectly could I enter into Margaret's feelings 
that it seemed to me already, in a spiritual sense, we 
were man and wife, and beginning to live our com- 
mon life together. We spent more of the day out- 
doors in the garden, or walking or riding our wheels. 
Vigorous physical exercise is always a great relief to 

325 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the pain of the spirit, and these beautiful summer 
days I rejoiced to take Margaret on long and rather 
hard outings. I tried to tire her just as far as I dared 
so that she might be sure to sleep at night. 

Margaret is much more conventional in her faith 
than I am, and carries many more traditional beliefs 
than real ones. Mrs. Ravenel, like most Southerners, 
was a very strict Churchwoman, and believed ac- 
cording to the letter rather than according to the 
spirit. Margaret's strong nature made it impossible 
for her to accept many of the illogical doctrines which 
Mrs. Kavenel professed, and pleased herself by believ- 
ing that she believed. In Margaret's world there had 
been heretofore no alternative between this conven- 
tional faith and utter disbelief. Neither position was 
possible to Margaret, and so she had remained osten- 
sibly bound to the old traditions, not denying them, 
but getting no living comfort out of them. It is a 
region of vague hopes and large doubts and frequent 
heartaches, a veritable valley of shadows. It is a re- 
gion very thickly tenanted. And the souls there are 
commonly very noble souls. It is their strength that 
denies the literalness of the old faith, with all its de- 
ficiency of imagination and flexibility and sweet growth. 
It is their religion that makes impossible the vulgarity 
of destructive agnosticism. Margaret is one of them, 
how thoroughly so I did not know until after Mrs. 
Ravenel's death. Before this, Margaret had given me 
many glimpses into this region of spiritual shadows, 
but in the bright springtime of our love it was natural 

326 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

for lis to turn to a thousand other topics, and to give 
this only casual place among the rest. Now it is quite 
different. Margaret's recovery from the shock of her 
mother's death has been a supreme personal effort, 
prompted by her love for me, by her sense of duty, 
and above all, I think, by her feeling of noblesse 
oblige. Margaret is a soldier's daughter, and though 
he may have fought in a mistaken cause, he did it 
generously and sincerely, and this, his daughter, is 
cast in the same heroic mould. But under it all, I 
can see that Margaret's spirit is hungry for some more 
assured ground of belief. What would I not give to 
be able to share my own radiant faith with her, a faith 
which is not made up of impossible traditions, but is 
a revelation constantly rene\sang itself in the heart. 
No creed, be it Nicene or Bostonian, is truly religious 
unless it frame itself in such general terms as to allow 
for this evolution of the himian spirit. 

I do not use the word God as Margaret has been 
accustomed to hearing the word used. To me it is a 
terrible thing to believe in a petty, book-keeping god 
who expects to get more than even with us when the 
great day of account comes ; or in a local god of 
Palestine who selects one people to be the instru- 
ment of his mercy, and another people to be the in- 
strument of his wrath. I am too good a democi-at for 
that, and much too religious so to bLospheme the idea 
of deity. The Go<l in whose presence I daily live, and 
whom I earnestly worship, is the great cosmic God, 
the one whom some of the Hebrew prophets appre- 

327 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



bended, whom I think Jesus declared, the permeating 
intelligence and spirit of the world, that appears in 
each one of us and gathers us all into one unity. I 
grant that it is a vague conception, vague just in pro- 
portion as the reality for which it stands transcends 
human experience. But it is not more vague than 
the conceptions of physical science. Indeed I think 
of God somewhat as I do of the ether. The ether is 
the intellectual medium in which the drama of the 
physical world takes place. And so God seems to me 
the permeating spiritual medium in which everything 
happens that ever does happen in the spiritual world. 
My religious life has its high festivals, its special 
times and seasons, its ecstasies, and the even tenor of 
its ways, but in effect it is the whole of my life, the 
entire twenty-four hours of my day. It is a matter of 
the daily thought and emotion, the daily food and 
dress, the daily work and play, the daily intercourse 
with the neighbor, and the respect that I pay to my- 
self. To make God manifest, to accept only the best, 
— this to me is religion. 

At this crisis in Margaret's life it is in the ques- 
tion of immortality that she feels the greatest interest. 
To Margaret, as to many church people whom I have 
met, immortality is a possibility, at most a faint hope, 
but never a positive belief. She marvels that I should 
hold so strenuously to it. She is afraid, I think, that I 
believe it because I want to believe it, that I am all 
unwilling to give up the brave spirits who have passed 
before us into the undiscovered country, or to admit 

328 



THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY 

even to myself that they may have passed into no- 
thingness. It is a wholesome caution, for usually our 
thought turns on this deep problem when death forces 
the question. It is an old mistake, that of calling de- 
sires beliefs. But I think I have allowed for this. I 
have said, if death end all, if that be the truth of it, 
then that is what I want to believe. For no man in 
his right senses wishes to be either self -deceived or 
other-deceived. I have doubted immortality, even dis- 
believed it, but now I believe it on as strong warrant 
as I have for any of my scientific beliefs. In one 
sense, immortality cannot be experienced ; it is not a 
fact of experience in the same immediate way that 
certain minor scientific facts are. But neither can 
the paleozoic age be experienced, nor space, nor time, 
nor cause and effect. They are inductions from ex- 
perience. And so to me is immortality. It is an 
induction from experience. In a world where every 
reality is essentially spiritual or intellectual, which- 
ever term you prefer, where even the study of nature, 
as soon as it passes from mere observation into orderly 
science, becomes a mental rather than a physical fact, 
I can only imagine the disappearance of spirit by pic- 
turing the annihilation of the universe itself. With- 
out the mental part that we give to all of our so- 
called facts, they would cease to exist. It is possible 
that the universe does shrivel up in this way and dis- 
appear, but it is less probable, I think, than any one 
of the great possibilities which science rejects and feels 
warranted in accepting their opposite as fact, 

329 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Margaret and I spoke of these deep problems at so 
great length, for when the heart is torn between love 
and sorrow it does not turn to the trivial things of 
life, but to the very deepest. 

And so the days slipped into the past, and it was 
August, and the eve of our wedding day. 

There was a sweet solemnity about that last even- 
ing of our separate lives. We spent the early part of 
it in our beloved garden, in the duke's summer house, 
and later we sat in the gTeat drawing-room, looking 
out upon the Lake. There was no moon, but the stars 
were as bright as so many beacon lights, and from 
time to time, a meteor flashed its tiny line of flame 
across the sky. From the opposite shore, the lamps of 
Versoix and Coppet sent their light gleaming out 
upon the waters, far enough away not to be intrusive, 
near enough to be cheery and human. It seemed to 
me then, as I sat there, with Margaret at my side, her 
hand in mine, her curling chestnut hair against my 
shoulder, that much there is in life that is doubtful, 
but that the one reality of all is love. In thinking it 
over it seems to me still that in this, at least, I was 
pretty near right. And when at last Margaret left 
me, to sleep that last sleep of her maidenhood, she put 
her arms about me and kissed me, and for the first 
time called me husband. Then, in very truth, I felt 
a consecrated man, and my strength seemed as the 
Btrength of ten. 



330 



CHAPTER Xn 

AN UIOJSUAL HONEYMOON 

It was our wedding day. When I awoke, the warm 
Ban was streaming in at my eastern window, the one 
where I fancied that the Duchess Margherita sat of a 
morning with her little son. I glanced around my 
great, bare apartment. It had been my home for 
days and nights that when added together made up a 
full year. Here I had workeil. Here I had striven 
as a man may to purify my own spirit, to clear my 
own vision, to chasten my own speech, to prepare my- 
self as any acolyte might for the high priesthood of 
letters, to school myself for the social service that I 
hoped to render to America. Here I had wrought 
for days and nights, working in hoj^e, and in passion- 
ate sincerity. I had stepj)ed aside from the world of 
action for a year, to think, and to learn how to ex- 
press the result of my thought. And the harvest of 
this year, I felt, had not been small. 

Here in this old south tower I had dreamed dreams, 
and sweet memories had crowded thick around me. I 
had re-lived the days of my boyhood. I hatl tasted 
again its joys and amusements, its fresh young love. 
The little Margaret had been with me at dusk and in 
the moonlight. My mother and my grandfather Percy- 

331 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



field had been called out of the past mto the present. 
Charlotte, with her laughing blue eyes and delicious 
banter, had been an ever-present guest. And here it 
was, best of all, that there had been revealed to me 
my love for Margaret, llere had come that wonder- 
ful night when I first knew that I loved her. You 
will not wonder that this great, bare room was to me 
a holy place. 

And to-day I was to leave it, and to leave my care- 
less youth. I was to enter upon the responsible double- 
life of manhood, to come into the determmate good. 
I got out of bed with all these thoughts rushing 
through my head. I felt very grave and very solemn. 
So much had suddenly come into my life that I had 
the sense of being almost overwhelmed. The youth 
that I was leaving had been fair and pure. What- 
ever it had lacked of accomplishment, of performance, 
of positive good, it was at least unstained. I was 
going to Margaret without any reservations or confes- 
sions. The beautiful name she gave me, I might hon- 
orably accept. On a man's wedding day he may be 
perfectly frank with himself, and heaven knows he is 
a happy man if this frankness need not take the form 
of regrets. I could speak thus of myself to myseK 
in all humility, for I knew that the merit was not 
mine. It was a part of that patrimony of good- 
breeding which sums up the struggles and purposes of 
many generations of red-blooded men and high-spirited 
women. And I, who reaped the fruit of this high 
endeavor, stood before it in humility and gratitude. 

332 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

As I looked at my own strong body, with its almost 
boyish freshness and wholesome color, I resolved that 
shoidd God give me sons and daughters of my own, 
I would, with his help and Margaret's, instruct them 
in all things, passing on unimpaired the gift that my 
ancestors had bequeathed to me, and teaching my 
children to make their religion a matter of the whole 
day, of the body and the mind and the spirit, and so 
to push forward the eternal quest of the perfect life. 

Then I dressed quickly and ran downstairs to greet 
my bride. 

I could have asked no better day. It was clear and 
still, with that mellow ripeness which comes with mid- 
summer. The Chateau was as lovely as the day. In 
the early morning, while we still slept, the indefati- 
gable Chatelaine had transformed the big drawing- 
room into a veritable garden. There were great 
branches of greenery and large growing, plants from 
Monsieur du Chene's hothouses, and large bunches of 
cut flowers on all sides. How much I appreciated 
Mademoiselle Werner's forethought in having no flow- 
ers at the funeral. I think she had this happier day 
in mind. The usual rugs had all been removed from 
the drawing-room, and the dark oak floor fresldy pol- 
ished. In their stead was a curious, richly colored 
rug in the very centre of the room. It was an old 
wedding-rug, such as they use in Sweden. It had 
been the gift of an old Swedish count when the Chate- 
laine's mother was married, and was used only on the 
occasion of weddings. The prevailing color was yel- 

333 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



low, in deference, I suppose, to the color of the guests' 
clothing, as prescribed by Hymen. It is a pretty 
custom. 

England and Ireland had constructed a large cross 
made of dark-green ivy, and had placed it back of 
where the clergyman was to stand. It gave the draw- 
ing-room quite the air of a church, and the large win- 
dows in their frames of greenery added to this effect. 
On all sides I saw the evidence of loving care. When 
I tried to thank the Chatelaine, her eyes filled, and 
she said that it was nothing at all. I know that 
when you love people, it seems nothing to render them 
this sweet service, but to them it is everything. It 
seemed as if every one tried to make up for the loss 
of the gentle mother, whose presence would have so 
beautifully completed this ideal wedding. 

It was a small company that gathered in this lovely 
flower-embowered room to see Margaret and me mar- 
ried, the same company that had gone with us to 
Clarens, except Mademoiselle Werner and Scotland. 
Mademoiselle Werner sent Margaret a bunch of the 
most exquisite flowers. They were all simple flowers, 
but they were arranged with a skill such as I had 
never seen before. There were white roses and pink 
roses, and luxuriant purple heliotrope, and pink and 
white carnations, with a touch of green in the way of 
fern and smilax. Usually I much prefer a bunch of 
flowers to be all of the same kind, and it takes rare 
skill to equal the beauty of this simple arrangement. 
But Mademoiselle Werner's bouquet had evidently 

334 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

been copie<l from some old piece of Dresden china, 
and had all of its delicacy and charm. It was charac- 
teristic of Mademoiselle Werner, as was her equally 
exquisite note to me wishing Margaret and me a life 
better than the best. Mademoiselle Werner did not 
come to the wedding herself, lest she might recall her 
singing to Margaret and so sadden her unnecessa- 
rily. Scotland took this occasion to spend the day at 
Ouchy, which I thought was uncommonly uncivil of 
her. The Chatelaine said, however, that it was all 
right. She evidently has a key to Scotland's character 
that I entirely fail to possess. I asked the Chatelaine 
if Scotland's knight was at Ouchy, the barelegged 
laird. The Chatelaine said he was n't barelegged, and 
he was n't a laird, so that I am left without any theory 
whatever, unless — But that is impossible. 

In addition to our little company, all the servants of 
the Chateau were present, and also my faithful music 
teacher, Madame Martigny. For the official part of 
the ceremony we had the pleasant young clergyman 
from the American church at Geneva, and the Amer- 
ican consul. I wanted duplicate state papers, so that 
I might send one to the little parish near New Orleans, 
where for generations the family records of the Rav- 
enels have been duly filed, their births and marriages 
and deaths, and the other to the Percyfield archives at 
Uplands. I should have been entirely happy could 
we but have had Charlotte and Frederic with us, and 
Peyton and the musician. They all sent us cable- 
grams, sweet messages of love and congratulation, as 

336 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



did also tlie New Orleans relatives, and even my aunt 
Percyfield. The musician's cablegram read, " Beetho- 
ven fortissimo," which I quite easily understood. He 
plays Schumann and I prefer Chopin, but we both love 
Beethoven. 

Nothing could have been simpler than this quiet 
wedding of ours. It was celebrated at high noon, after 
the wedding custom of both families. It is strange 
how, in these solemn occasions of life, one turns so 
persistently and loyally to the honorable customs es- 
tablished by one's ancestors. It was the most natural 
thing in the world for Margaret and me to wish to fol- 
low these customs with fidelity. Happily both families 
had observed much the same usage. It always takes 
us with a shivering sort of surprise when we hear 
young people talk of the latest fashions in these solemn 
matters. There was no one who could properly give 
the bride away, and neither Margaret nor I was sorry 
to omit this mediaeval custom, for it did not in the 
least accord with our own idea of marriage. To us 
it was the giving of one to the other, and we could 
better symbolize it by walking side by side. It was 
just noon when Madame Martigny played the stirring 
wedding march from Lohengrin, and Margaret and I 
passed into the drawing-room to be made formally man 
and wife. 

Margaret was dressed very simply in a white gown. 
I do not know what the material was, for, as you may 
have noticed, I am rather lacking in discrimination in 
all such matters. I call the white things ' dimity,' if 

336 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 



they please me, and ' stuff,' if they don't. I only 
know that this wedding-gown of Margaret's stood 
quite at the head of the diinity class. Margaret was 
not pale, nor was her face sad. There was a gentle 
sweetness, born of her sorrow, but otherwise she was 
her radiant, natural self. It was the gladness of her 
great love that surrounded her, as with an atmosphere, 
and sent a thrill through every one present, even, I 
believe, down to the stolid Marie, who murmured " la 
belle demoiselle." At the door of the drawing-room 
the Chatelaine slipped something white into Margaret's 
hand. It was a vellum-covered little book, something 
like a missal, containing the Episcopal wedding ser- 
vice, and had been illuminated by the Chatelaine her- 
self. It was her wedding gift to Margaret. In the 
back there was a place for the names of all the wit- 
nesses, and here we have the signatures of that kind 
company, beginning with the Chatelaine and ending 
with Madame Martigny. 

I have never been to a wadding so sweet, so solenm. 
This was due in part to the fact that it was my own 
wedding. But aside from that and quite impartially, 
I believe it was a perfect wedding. The real marriage 
between Margaret and myself had already taken place. 
The words of the clergyman were only the outer and 
dignified expression of this inner ceremony. It was 
not nervous ; it was not hurried. It was not over- 
shadowed by the anxiety that something might go 
wrong. It was all so lacking in ehiborateness tliat 
there was nothing which could possibly go amiss. There 

337 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



were no bridesmaids to toy with their flowers or their 
gowns ; no ' best man ' to be watching apprehensively 
for the appearance of the bridal party ; no ushers to 
be fidgeting with their four-inch collars, or trying fran- 
tically to button an obstinate glove, or flirting with 
some pretty bridesmaid whom they hoped one day to 
be leading themselves to the altar. There was no 
crowding in and out of carriages, and enduring the 
vidgar gaze of the curious, no distractions of any sort 
whatever. There was enough form to give dignity 
and beauty to the ceremony, but not enough to over- 
load it and hide its real meaning. It was in effect 
what I wished it to be, the festival of our love, of 
Margaret's love and mine. And when the ceremony 
came to an end, and the clergyman in his clear, manly 
voice said, " In the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost, I pronounce you man 
and wife. Whom God hath joined together, let no 
man put asunder," Margaret and I remained for 
some time kneehng, absorbed in the wonder and the 
sacredness of it. 

Later in the day we drove into Geneva and took 
the night train for Paris, en route to the work in 
London ; and with us we carried the love and bless- 
ing of three as noble old gentlewomen as ever gathered 
under one roof. 

It was an unusual honeymoon that Margaret and I 
spent. We rested a day in Paris. I wanted to show 
Margaret her picture in the Louvre. Then we went 
directly on to London, by way of Calais and Dover. 

338 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

It was no longer possible to go to Mansfield House, so 
we established ourselves in Torringtou Square. As it 
was to be our home for two months at least, I took 
great care to select rooms that were bright and sunny. 
We made them as attractive as possible by getting 
out our own pictures and belongings, such draperies 
and bric-a-brac as Margaret and I had stored away 
in our several trunks. We were greatly surprised to 
find that we had picked up so much. It was quite a 
distinct and delightful sensation to speak of ' our ' 
things. Everything new that I bought I had sent home 
to ' Mrs. John Percyfield.' It was such a joy to say 
the name and to see it written. It took me some time, 
though, to get used to the cold-blooded, unemotional 
way in which the clerks in the different shops put it 
down in their scrawly, running handwriting. You 
might have thought that it was just an ordinary 
name, instead of being brand-new and full of senti- 
ment. 

Our rooms were very sweet-looking when Margaret 
and I had arranged all our pretty things and put the 
finishing touches to them. We had bright silk blan- 
kets from Kome, and bronzes from Naples, and wood 
mosaics from Sorrento, and carvings from Geneva, 
and several marbles from Florence, and photographs 
and water-colors from pretty much everywhere. Then 
I atlded a number of splendid growing ])lants, and 
every few days the friendly old florist around the 
corner sent us in fresh cut flowers. But the gi-eatest 
treasure in these pretty rooms, the fairest flower of 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



all, was my very dear Margaret, my beautiful bride, 
my comrade wife. I had always disliked London as 
a dull, murky city of very doubtful attractions, a place 
where one might buy some new clothes, take a dip 
into the Koyal Academy, and be gone by the first con- 
venient train. But wdth Margaret at my side, Lon- 
don was a veritable paradise. The two months went 
round with a speed that I could hardly have believed 
possible. We made a few excursions, such as to Ox- 
ford and Cambridge, and the nearer cathedral towns, 
and we had a few delightful days on the Isle of Wight, 
walking over Shanklin Down to Ventnor and the 
great St. Catherine's Light. To be at Ventnor and 
St. Catherine's carried us back to America and made 
our home-going seem very near, for both of us had so 
often looked at these spots from the deck of a trans- 
Atlantic steamer going up or down the Channel. 

But the greater part of our time we stopped in 
London and busied ourselves with the grave social 
work which had taken us to England. With Mar- 
garet at my side, it seemed to me that my eyes had 
more than double power. I saw such a multitude of 
things which without her quick glance would have 
quite escaped me. Margaret threw herself into the 
work with absolute single-heartedness and was the 
greatest help. I had not supposed it possible that she 
could go in for the work with such thoroughness and 
such scieutific care. What particularly impressed me 
was her power of putting her finger unerringly on the 
weak spot in any movement or plan. It was her per- 

340 



AN UNUSUAL JluXRYMOON 



fectly fresh, unspoiled point of view, and her sound 
instinct that gave her this marvelous critical i>ower. 
It seemed to me, indeed, that hatl I consulted my 
work solely and quite left my heart and its needs out 
of the question, the cleverest thing I could possibly 
have done was to have married Margaret. But even 
greater than this direct help was the indirect help 
that Margaret gave me. With my great love sing- 
ing in my heart night and day, and with Margaret 
always near, I had a power such as I had never 
known before. 

Margaret's personal interests were characteristic. 
It was the hiunan side, the home, that most appealed 
to her. The housing of the poor, the needs of old age, 
the ministi^ations to motherhood, these were problems 
that she mastered in much greater details than I was 
able to do. When I told Margaret this, she said that 
the knowledge was all in the family and she would 
guard it so that we might act upon it when we came 
to America. This, indeed, was the burden of all our 
work. We were not in London as mere observers, 
mere students of social conditions. We were there to 
acquire social methods, social insight, that we might 
the better serve America. I was so glad to have Mar- 
garet undertake this side of our incjuiry, for it was all 
vitally imjwrtant, and she could do it so much better 
than ever I could. Margaret saw the personal side, 
and with a woman's quick wit and sjnnpathy set about 
the relief of the individual. I am always tremendously 
sorry for the individuals, and especially for the aged 

Ml 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



poor, — God help them, — but I have always felt 
nevertheless that my own power of service is in the 
direction of that political action which will make this 
suffering less possible. Margaret, with her warm heart, 
stood for relief, and I, with something of my grand- 
father Marston's puritan conscience in me, stood for 
prevention. In such a transition time as the present, 
there is large need of both types of service, and Mar- 
garet and I worked together admirably. She kept my 
doctrines human, and I helped to keep her practice 
wise. Many of the problems, touching as they did 
both individual need and social polity, we took the 
keenest pleasure in studying out together. 

Such a problem was the pensioning of old age. It 
has this double side to it, the appeal for human sym- 
pathy and the need of wise social economy. Mar- 
garet saw at once the added self-respect and dignity 
and happiness of the poor old people, could they live, 
however frugally, on a state pension, instead of de- 
pending on the unwilling pittance of a hard-pressed 
son or daughter, or still worse, instead of being thrown 
on the poor rates or relegated to the poor-house. I 
knew of what Margaret was thinking. She was think- 
ing of Mrs. Eavenel, and of the tragedy which might 
so easily have befallen her had age and illness found 
her without money and without friends. My own 
thought rushed along with Margaret's. I thought of 
my own mother. I am a strong man, and I do not 
often weep, but the tears fill my eyes when I recall 
the sad, patient, suffering faces of the poor old women 

3^ 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

whom Margaret and I saw during those days in Ix>n- 
don, and when I think that her mother or mine might 
have been one of these poor, despised ones, the thought 
becomes fairly intolerable. What are we men of 
England and America thinking about when we allow, 
in the midst of our great wealth, such indignity, such 
keen physical suffering, to multitudes of old women, 
the mothers of a large part of the brawn and muscle 
of the nation, women whose age and whose weakness 
make the most touching claim upon our knightliness 
and our devotion ? And how do we meet this claim, 
we fortunate ones, who are young and strong and 
rich ? For the most part, we ignore it. We let these 
women suffer cold and hunger and nakedness, the 
bitter dregs of poverty and loneliness. We let them 
go uncomforted and unattended to the tomb. God 
forgive us, and put it into our hearts and hands to do 
something more worthy of our manhood and our hu- 
manity ! 

Margaret is naturally less interested in such purely 
democratic movements as the taking over of the city 
tram-lines, and the mimicipalizing of public utilities 
generally, for they are more abstract and less immedi- 
ately human. But they interest me vastly, for I want 
to see such extension of the function of government 
tliat it may bring about the positive freedom of the in- 
dividual, and not merely save him from the fate of the 
man who went down to Jericho. Although Margaret is 
always ready to play the Good Samaritan, she is com- 
ing around to my ]X)int of view that private charities 

'Si3 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



are an indictment of inadequate social action, are 
essentially undemocratic and undesirable. We lend 
a hand to this work of relief, for meanwhile the suf- 
fering is here and may not decently be neglected, but 
we see increasingly that this method is not the way 
out. The function of the state is to make private 
charities unnecessary. It can do this by removing 
those misfortunes which can be cured, the misfor- 
tunes of ignorance and physical defect and ill health 
and idleness ; and by honorably providing for those 
misfortunes which cannot be removed, the misfortunes 
of old age and accident and illness. 

Most of the social problems with which Margaret 
and I are brought in contact in this great, unhappy 
London have both of these elements in them, the indi- 
vidual and the collective, and while temperamentally 
she is drawn to the one and I to the other, we have 
large common ground in all of them. For me the 
path out of all this appalling misery is the most un- 
compromising social democracy, the administration of 
the earth and its priceless resources for human good 
and not for private profit. I can no longer believe 
that any decent social condition will ever be brought 
about by the operation of what is politely called 
*' enlightened self-interest." Practically, this enlight- 
ened self-interest is merely a world-wide game of grab 
which is neither enlightened nor is it self-interest, for 
it is dreadfully difficult while you are grabbing to 
prevent the other fellow from grabbing back, and 
there is the deeper tragedy that meanwhile life is 

344 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

passing, is gone, is lost, — and the game was not 
worth the canclle. 

There was a gentler home side to our London life 
which perhaps helped us more than anything else to 
get at what we wanted. I had had a second purpose 
in making our rooms at Torrmgton Square as pleasant 
and attractive as possible. I knew that Margaret 
would not at all care to go into society. She did 
not put 01^ the traditional heavy mourning for Mrs. 
Ravenel. It seems to me a needless cruelty to put 
these hideous barriers of crape between one's self and 
the rest of the world, and also a distinct unkindness 
to other people. Margaret dressed so unobtrusively 
that only had your attention been called to it would 
you have recognized the dress as mourning. She 
wished to meet the social workers of London, and so 
our pleasant drawing-room soon became a modest 
salon. It was in Torrington Square rather than in 
the shabby little lecture halls which we occasionally 
frequented, that we learned most about London's 
problems, and the methods by which she is trying to 
solve them. How proud I was of my dear Margaret. 
A natural gravitation seemed to bring these earnest, 
somewhat hard-pressed men and women to Margaret's 
salon, and I am sure that they found here a sweet 
refreshment which quite comj^ensated them for their 
kindness in coming to us. Twice a week, on Wednes- 
day and Sunday evenings, we have been regularly at 
home. If the evening was at all chilly, we had a 
cheerful fire of English sea-coal blazing on our hearth. 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Some sweet fresh flowers stood on the table. The 
lamps were carefully shaded. And in the midst was 
Margaret, looking to me like some sweet saint come 
down from heaven, and to the Londoners who gathered 
around her, surely one of the most charming of the 
many charming women who have held court in Lon- 
don drawing-rooms. We maintained the habit of the 
monologue. In this way, I think, we gave of our 
best, and got the very best from our guests. 

Other evenings of the week we had one or two peo- 
• pie to dinner. Our establishment was too modest to 
permit any extensive entertaining, even had we been 
in the mood for it, and I have always preferred these 
small dinner parties, informal and frequent, to the 
most astounding extravagances that Mr. Boldt or Del- 
monico can get up. Aunt Viney was quite in her 
element and willingly acted as the chef. I think she 
has the genuine social instinct. It seemed to be a 
great relief to the old woman to be hard at work, and 
so Margaret let her do as much as she would. Aunt 
Viney made our table resemble New Orleans cookery 
as nearly as the London markets would allow. It 
was amusing, too, to see what delight Aunt Viney 
took in the English language, after her enforced 
silence on the Continent. She talked to every one 
who came in her way, and completely scandalized the 
wooden English servants by her lengthy conversations 
with Margaret and me. Sometimes our dinner guests 
remained a part of the evening, sometimes they accom- 
panied us if we happened to be going out, sometimes 

346 



AN UNUSUAL HONEYMOON 

they left shortly after dinner to keep en<^agements of 
their own. London affairs begin so late that by l)eing 
prompt, we could manage a successful little dinner 
party, and still have the evening for other things or 
for our reading. I think that Margaret and I met 
some of the most delightful men in London that we 
can ever hope to meet anywhere. There was a whole- 
someness and courtesy about them that constantly re- 
minded me of my grandfather Percyfield as he must 
have been when a young man. Many of them still 
remembered Charlotte and the summer she spent in 
England. Some of the men from Toynbee Hall came 
to us, and many of our friends from Clement's Inn. 

It was a curious and unusual honeymoon that Mar- 
garet and I had in London. I kept Margaret almost 
pitilessly occupied, for I knew that it was the greater 
kindness. It would have been quite impossible to 
go pleasuring in the ordinary sense of the w^ord. It 
would have been unwise to go home. Our home, 
like our wedding day, I wanted to be established in 
happiness. And our children, when they came, I 
wanted to be conceived in joy and not in sorrow. 

Margaret was bravery itself ; but she had received 
a wound that nothing but time and love and service 
could heal. Our life in London was absolutely dis- 
interested, but it brought us such deep happiness that 
I am tempted to wi'ite, not as an epigi-am, but as a 
practical maxim of life that the most complete unself- 
ishness is also the most successful selfishness. And 
this must al\v:ivs be so. The person: J career, limited 

3-17 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



to this one world-life, this one incarnation, is absolutely 
doomed to disappointment. It is a story in which the 
losses exceed the gains. Our dear ones die ; our 
affairs get tangled ; our powers wane ; health and 
youth are spent ; the hearing dulls, the eye weakens, 
the emotions are worn ; one tragedy succeeds another, 
— it is a losing game. But when one's interests are 
concentrated on something bigger than the immediate 
personal career, upon the social good, upon the larger 
existence in time and space, upon the cosmic career of 
the purified soul, it is possible to be eternally, youth- 
fully happy. This supreme happiness came to Mar- 
garet as it had once come, after months of keen suf- 
fering, to me. No selfish idling could have brought 
it, no dangling in museums and galleries, no aimless 
wandering in the mountains or by the sea, no selfish 
pursuit of any kind whatever. It comes only through 
human service and human sympathy and human out- 
reaching towards that which is eternal and divine. 
This life among the social workers of London, this 
daily contact with the suffering poor, did more to' 
assure Margaret of the immortality of love and life 
than could any abstract philosophy of mine. And 
when at last we turned our faces towards America, we 
went to it chastened by a common sorrow, but illu- 
mined by a common hope. 



348 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE GREAT REPUBLIC 

One who reads the alhiring booklets of the steam- 
ship companies mif]^lit think that quite the most de- 
lightful tiling in all the world would be to cross the 
Atlantic in some floating palace, such as is pictured in 
this oceanic literature. But it is well to add still an- 
other grain of salt. In point of statistics I believe it 
is one of the safest things to do, much safer than to 
travel on the average American express train. But 
though these booklets are optimistic in their view of life, 
and though the floating palaces, under certain condi- 
tions of the system and the weather, may be very uncom- 
fortable places, it still remains true that the present 
passenger fleet of the Atlantic, if gathered together in 
one roadstead, would mak(s by all odds, the most im- 
pressive navy that the world has ever seen. Now tliat 
Margaret and I are back at Uplands, I have crossed 
the Atlantic six times, but I cannot see one of these 
splendid steamers, with their graceful lines and l>eau- 
tiful finish and implied speed, without as much of a 
thrill as swept over me the very first time that Char- 
lotte and I ever crossed the ocean. There is some- 
thing in the Anglo-Saxon blood tliat stiU responds to 

349 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



the dash of the waves and the sniff of salt air. It 
has made us a colonizing people and is perhaps partly 
responsible for our imperialism. The English are our 
modern Phoenicians, with Mr. Klipling as their exult- 
ant bard. But even a quiet gentleman like myself, 
who does not go in for either trade or imperialism, is 
conscious of a decided thrill when the waves dash 
high and the salt air blows stiff and keen. The original 
thrill deepens, in fact, for since that first crossing I 
have been working at odd moments over a new scheme 
of water propulsion. When the scheme is perfected I 
shall be having a yacht of my own, big enough to 
cross the Atlantic, or for that matter to go around the 
world in, should such a trip seem necessary and profit- 
able. The study of life is so fascinating that you never 
know where it will carry you. Margaret calls it our 
vocation, this study of life. 

The yacht has not been built, not even committed 
to paper, for I have not got to it yet. But it has an 
increasingly distinct outline in my imagination, and I 
foresee that it may become one of those realities of the 
mind, which, almost in spite of one's self, must pass 
out into three dimensions. It is dangerous to enter- 
tain ideas which one would not care to have blossom 
into facts, for an earnest man, as I have been saying 
all along, is pretty sure to get what he really wants. 
It is so with my yacht. I do not quite accept the idea 
yet, for there are several other things that I want to 
accomplish fii^st. But it is beginning to loom up as a 
possibility, I think of it as you do of places still 

350 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



some distance ahead on the time-table. You mu8t 
pass over the intervening <^iound and it is always pos- 
sible that you may get off at one of the intervening 
stations, and so the distant place remains but a name, 
a possibility made impossible by some other decision. 
That is the way it is with the ^^ Maxwell," for such is 
the name that I have given to my nebulous yacht. She 
is named after Clerk Maxwell, the greatest scientist of 
the nineteenth century. You may remember about 
him, the quiet Scottish gentleman who workeil out the 
identity of light and electricity ; but perhaps not, for 
the names of these profound investigators are often 
less known than those of the smaUer men who have 
popularized their results. Both types are necessary 
and honorable, but for the genius I have myself a 
reverence which is even religious. It seems to me 
a godlike thing to be original and to push out even 
a little bit into the unknown. 

The Maxwell is the most rapid, as well as the most 
beautiful craft that ever made light of latitude and 
longtitude. I have rated her speed at a hundred miles 
an hour, and this would put you in New York fi*om 
Southampton in twenty-one hours, but if you went 
against the sun, from New York to Southampton, it 
would take you thirty-one, as the steeple cloi^ks would 
count the matter. When the musician, whose mathe- 
matical tendencies are pronounced and sometimes 
troublesome, asks me on what data I have calculated 
the speed, I must needs answer that one hundred is a 
tidy number, the square of ten, and all that sort of 

351 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



thing, and rests on more poetic grounds than mere 
questions of pressure and resistance. 

But as I have said, the Maxwell is still in the 
future. It was only that all her details pressed in upon 
me that morning when Margaret and I deserted our 
pleasant quarters in Torrington Square, and put our- 
selves in the way of coming to America. Our steamer 
was one of the biggest and whitest and most beautiful 
of all the predecessors of the Maxwell. She boasts a 
very high and mighty name on the sailing list of the 
company, but most of the steamers in the trans- 
Atlantic service which have attained to any distinc- 
tion and character have also a second name by which 
they are known in the inner circle of esoteric globe 
trotters. Ours was long ago christened the " White 
Seal," and though no champagne went the wrong way at 
this second christening and no magnate's little daugh- 
ter smashed a bottle so far front as the bow, it is by 
this second name that Margaret and I know and love 
the piece of three-dimensional poetry which brought 
us back to the Great Republic. The White Seal 
seemed to us indeed more like a private yacht than a 
mere winner of dividends. 

It was the middle of October when Margaret and 
I left England. The day was fair, with that ripe, blue 
haziness which in the autumn bespeaks Nature's con- 
tentment with accomplished work. The task of pro- 
viding food for her millions of children had been 
successfully performed, as you could easily see by 
looking in at the open doors of the well-filled bams, 

352 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



or better still, into the rosy, satisfied faces of the 
farmers. It was not yet in season for the sap to be 
running into fresh bud and leaf, or for the earth and 
sky to be bringing forth tlieir children of blade and 
ear. Nature was at rest, and her quiescent loveliness 
seemed brooding over the English landscai)e like a 
visible presence, a benediction before the fog and 
storm, the labor and care out of which was to be bom 
the harvest of another year. 

This aspect of the world fell in well with Marga- 
ret's mood and mine. Our present work was done. 
Like Nature, we were drawing the full breath of an 
autunmal parenthesis. Our English sojourn had 
brought us a much larger harvest than we had had the 
wit to foresee, and in our hearts we felt very, very 
rich. In us, at least, the Anglo-American alliance was 
an accomplished fact. We shall never again be able 
to look upon England as an alien coimtry. We shall 
deplore her political blunders, her lapses in diplomatic 
faith, her unrighteousness in the cause of imperialism, 
her unmitigated spirit of trade. We shall even go on 
being amused at some of her people, at their obtuse- 
ness, at their lack of humor, at their i)rovinciid and 
chikllike assurance of superiority, at their feeble im- 
agination. But deeper than our criticism is our love. 
We feel the Anglo-Saxon brotherhood, the kinship of 
a large puri)ose. We shall remember as long as we 
draw breath those earnest men and women at Mans- 
field House, at Toynbee Hall, at Clement's Inn, in the 
few London homes into which we penetrated. We 

353 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



are glad to speak the same mother tongue as the 
miodest, learned men whom we met at Oxford and 
Cambridge; of the noble canon who moved heaven 
and earth to secure a scandalously rich living and 
then had the stipend cut down to a suitable amount ; 
of the two sisters we met on the Isle of Wight, living 
so successfully the life beautiful ; and of dozens of other 
fine souls, an ornament to our common blood and our 
common humanity. 

But my own deepest gratitude to London is for a 
very practical lesson I learned there. You know that 
social reformers, aristocratic as well as plebeian, are 
a bit given to the sophomoric, and want to make hea- 
ven without the voyage. To be quite honest, Mr. 
John Percyfield, of Uplands, Chester County, Penn- 
sylvania, has not always escaped this weakness of his 
class. It is too much to say that London, even in two 
months can knock all that out of a man ; but it warns 
him. The joUy way the Fabians had of laughing at 
themselves, and the splendid good nature they brought 
to their quarrel with existing evils, was to me a valu- 
able object lesson, for my own virtue is of the indig- 
nant sort, spending too much of its force in heat. 
The Fabians have a genuine millennium programme 
tucked away in the back of their heads, and down deep 
in their hearts, but they keep it in the background 
instead of in the foreground of their effort, and this 
bit of wisdom makes the difference between success 
and defeat. Meanwhile, they are after the milkman 
and the butcher and the gas company and the water 

354 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



supply and the tramways and the unearned increment, 
and are bent on socializing public opinion and private 
practice, slowly, if need be, but still on socializing it. 
The hot bloods call all this opiH)rtuni8m, but as long 
as this means lending an honest hand to helpfid, prac- 
tical measures, however immediate and limited, it is a 
taunt that can well be borne. The Fabian essays are 
good reading for a man who wants really to serve and 
not merely to fizz. 

So Margaret and I went on Iward the White Seal 
in high spirits, not outwartUy exuberant as we might 
have been a few months earlier, but with that sub- 
dued excitement which shows itself in sparkling eye 
and heightened color. We were literally on top of 
the wave. 

You may call it a lover's prejudice if you like, but 
that morning, when we mounted the gangj^lank which 
carried us out of Europe, it seemed to me that Mar- 
garet had never looked so beautiful. She was excited 
at the prospect of going homo, and, furthermore, her 
beauty hi\d a certain maturity about it. Had Mar- 
garet been less beautiful than when I married her, I 
should have been sadly distressed, for it would have 
seemed to me that our marri(Hl life had some immis- 
takable flaw in it. I should think that husbands, in 
whose daily presence wives lose their beauty and at- 
tractiveness, would feel as much rebuked as if Nature 
had spoken to them openly. This human fmling is a 
bitter tragedy. Wc» must all grow old, but there is 
a beauty for every age, and if we miss it, there is some- 

355 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



thing wrong. We may not keep the bloom of spring, 
but we may lay claim to the loveliness of summer, the 
glory of the autumn, and that solemn whiteness of the 
winter that goes before the resurrection. Whatever 
my own prejudices may have been, however, the other 
passengers could not be accused of sharing them, and 
their undisguised admiration would have told me that 
Margaret is a very beautiful woman, had I needed any 
outer testimony. 

Aunt Viney, of course, was with us. She is mor- 
tally afraid of the water. I am sure that every night 
and morning, and many times during the day, she 
prayed most fervently that the ship might not go to 
the bottom. But in spite of her fear she was as de- 
lighted as Margaret and I to be coming back to 
America. 

The voyage was absolutely uneventful. Day after 
day the sun illumined its shortening portion. Night 
after night the stars laid claim to the lengthening 
darkness. Margaret and I spent all our time on deck. 
The steamer, fortunately, was not crowded, and it was 
easy to find a quiet spot where we could place our 
steamer chairs side by side, and there, wrapped in our 
warm rugs, we would sit by the hour, reading aloud 
or talking, or even in complete and friendly silence. 
It was a delight to feel that no interruption could 
come to us. There are people, you know, who expe- 
rience an ennui on board ship which they say is worse 
than seasickness. They have n't Margaret at their 
side, and, perhaps, not so very much in their heads 

356 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



either. Margaret and I are botli good sailors. I 
used to be a pretty poor one, but that was before I 
knew any better. I am afraid we were not very socia- 
ble. After the first day or two, it came to be recog- 
nized apparently that we were wedding-journeyers, 
and we were let alone with a scrupulousness that got 
to be amusing. For persons of such pronounced 
social instincts as Margaret and I, this reserve might 
have been reprehensible, but from the bits of conver- 
sation we did catch, it seemed that there were enough 
persons on board bent on personal narrative to make 
the most sphinx-like silence on our part not only for- 
givable, but even meritorious. When you are at 
sea, you are all in the same boat, as Charlotte, the 
humorist, puts it, and this fact seems to invite the 
most astonishing confidences. When friendship moves 
at too rapid a rate it is apt to spend itself and grow 
weary. 

Margaret and I lived in such delightful isolation, 
that we might almost have been on an island. But 
it might not have been a desert island, for we should 
sadly have missed the ministrations of the deck stew- 
ard. At eleven, he brought us bouillon and hardtack ; 
at four, he appeared with hot tea and little triangiUar 
sandwiches. Margaret did not quite approve of my 
method of counting, but in reality we ate five meals a 
day, aside from any crackers or fruit which might dis- 
appear in our stateroom during the process of dress- 
ing. Tlie larder of the Maxwell will have to be very 
commodious. In fact our appetites were so keen that 

357 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



I had to invent a theory to account for them, and 
even to excuse them. A wholesome appetite is a good 
thing, but one would blush a little to be accounted 
ravenous. At sea, however, the constant vibration 
digests your food rapidly, and makes it entirely decent 
and reasonable to eat twice as much as would keep 
you going on land. Such, at least, is my theory, and 
it has brought comfort to a number of persons at once 
scrupulous and very hungry. 

Before ever I crossed the ocean, I supposed that 
one was constantly coming up with other gay ships of 
the line, and even passing the time of day with them. 
I was amazed, appalled, almost terrified by the awful 
loneKness of the ocean. Even now it never ceases to 
impress me. Margaret and I were on the most fre- 
quented of all ocean routes, and yet a whole day would 
pass when we did not catch a glimpse of another 
steamer, or even of the dim white sails of some loiter- 
ing ship. Occasionally, we saw a school of porpoises, 
true Frobelians, since their school consisted of weU- 
ordered and wholesome play. Once, we caught sight 
of a spouting whale, but we were unable to answer 
when, later, the irrepressible Charlotte asked what he 
was spouting about. Then there was a diminutive 
piece of ice, called by courtesy an iceberg, but the 
captain had more respect for it than we did, for he 
steered well out of its way. He had in mind the 
nine tenths or eight ninths or some other vulgar frac- 
tion of it that remained under water, and might be a 
source of danger. 

358 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



But it was at night that the mystery and loneliness 
of the ocean pressed in upon us. We ha<l no moon 
save a dainty little wisp of a new moon towards the 
end of the voyagt*. Margaret and I used to have our 
chairs taken to the upper deck, and there in the dark- 
ness and the silence we felt the elation of rushing 
noiselessly through space. All artificial lights were 
veiled, the skylights even were shrouded in heavy can- 
vas, so that the officer on the bridge might the better 
discern the lights of any passing ship. We had only 
the stars for company and the soft rush of water far 
below against the ship's sides. We found this infi- 
nitely better than any concert they could get up down 
in the cabin. I am so happy that Margaret is an out- 
door woman. I foresee that we shall spend the greater 
part of our lives in the open. We seemed very much 
outdoors on that upper deck of the White Seal, and 
the exultation of it took great hold upon us. When 
we were not snugly wrapped in our rugs, and in our 
comfortable steamer chairs, we were walking briskly 
up and down the decks, or were established for the 
moment out in the very bow, watching the phosphores- 
cent fire, as the sliij) leaped forwards to meet the on- 
coming waves. 

It is jK)ssibl(» in eight days to do a great deal of 
tiilking. And Margaret and I ha<l much to talk 
aboQt, — of our chance meeting at the Chateau, of the 
wonder of our awakening love, about Mrs. liavenel, 
of our London experiences, and the Ixwks we were 
rft^uig. But most of all we sjwke of America, and 

369 



JOHN PEECYFIELD 



of the new life that we were soon to be livmg here. 
Beyond the fact that our home was to be in the coun- 
try, near Uplands if possible, and that we were to be 
devoting ourselves to the idealizing of the daily life, 
and to the practical work of loving the neighbor, we 
had no plans. We were en route to the unexpected 
quite as much as I was when I went to Europe. It 
was the old quest, the quest of the indeterminate good. 
With Margaret at my side, I had no end of hope. As 
the little flag on the chart in the companionway that 
marked our daily run crept slowly westward, I felt 
an ever-deepening passion for America, for the dear 
fatherland, and for the possibility of service here. It 
seems to me a great thing to be an American, to be 
young and strong and free, to have the heart and quali- 
fications to take hold of things, and to make the des- 
tiny of my dear country somewhat more glorious and 
more righteous than it might have been without me. 
Never a country better deserved a man's passionate 
love, nor more deeply needed his wise service. Every 
nation born of time and destiny has failed. At the 
height of its power it has seemed invincible. Yet 
every time there has been some poison in the blood 
that has paralyzed the once-strong hand and unnerved 
the once-valiant heart. But America is new-born. It 
occupies a virgin continent. It has not been formed 
from the wreck of spent dynasties. I find it not 
grotesque to fancy that the gods themselves are look- 
ing down upon our new method of playing out the 
world game, wondering with bated breath whether 

360 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



soberly and righteously we will carry Americ^a into 
the power of peace and brotherhood, or whether dis- 
solutely and (Irunkenly we will ])lunge her into the ruin 
of denied humanity, the one abyss which has swal- 
lowed every other nation that has ever been and now 
is not. If America would only see, if she would dash 
aside the black bandage of selfishness and gieed, if 
she would resolutely put aside the tempter, and know 
that as long as time itself endures there is but one 
path to success, the perfect path of love and justice 
and brotherhood, what might America, my own Amer- 
ica, not do ! Em})ires have come and gone, — God's 
truth endures. There is but one kingdom which is 
eternal. It is the kingdom of love, and love is that 
larger term which includes justice and generosity and 
brotherhood. Fate, destiny, old age, sickness, poverty, 
crucifixion, death, all the malignant forces of supersti- 
tion and cruelty cannot prevent the success of the man 
who follows the method of this kingdom, of the man 
whose heart is bent on something larger than the 
assertion of the self, of the man who is unselfish, of 
the man who loves. 

It would be the same with nations. 

Margaret and I had been sitting in silence for 
some time while all these thoughts were running 
through my head. My eyes were clostnl. 

Margaret leaned over and said very softly, " John, 
are you asleep ? '' For answer I oi)ened my eyes very 
wide and showed her how little sleep there was in 
them. " Shall I interrupt if I talk to you ? " 

361 



JOHN PEKCYFIELD 



I laughed at the possibility, — as if Margaret ever 
could interrupt me, — and answered, " Margaret, you 
designing one, you want a compliment. You know 
you never could interrupt, if you tried ever so hard. 
Talk to me, and the longer the better." 

" Perhaps you won't like it so well when you know 
what I am going to say. I was just wondering, John, 
whether you were consistent." 

I laughed again, and right merrily, — as if any one, 
man or woman, under the wide canopy of heaven, ever 
was consistent. " I think not, dear heart," I answered. 
" You know what Emerson says, ' With consistency 
the great soul has nothing to do.' " 

" That 's very good in the abstract, and will do to 
apply to some one else, but hardly to one's self." 

" Tell me, then, just what you mean." 

" I was thinking of you and Peyton. You are both 
of you born aristocrats, if there ever were any." 

" Granted, dear lady, and I have never recovered. 
But what then ? " 

" Why, this. I was wondering how you make it all 
square with your democracy, for I know you are sin- 
cere in both. How can one be an aristocrat and a 
socialist at the same time. It does n't seem to me 
entirely consistent." 

" I 'm not half so frightened as I expected to be," I 
answered gayly. " I was willing to plead guilty to the 
charge of inconsistency, on general principles. We 
are all of us more or less inconsistent. But really 
in this matter I 'm perfectly consistent. I 'm a thor- 

362 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



oughgoing aristocrat, and can never be anything else 
as long as the Percy field blood runs true, a regular 
conservative in some things, a believer in noblesse 
ohlifji\ a disbeliever in trade, a counter of breeding 
above everything else in all the world. But so are 
you, dear Margaret, or you would not be a Ravenel." 
'* Yes, of course, but I am also the wife of a very 
hot democrat. Tell me how we can be ^'»*^' "t 



once 



V" 



When Margaret says * we ' in this charming way 
I am seized with a very strong desire to catch her up 
in my arms and kiss her. But the officer on the 
bridge had his eye on us and I was obliged to refrain. 
*' It seems to me this way. To believe in excellence 
is to be an aristocrat. To believe in it for all people 
is to be a democrat. There you have it in a nutshell. 
The older aristocrats wanted all the excellence for 
themselves, and l)uilt walls about it and digged ditches. 
It was the excellence of privilege. You and I don't 
want that " — 

** Surely not," said Margaret hastily. 

— " We want the utmost measure of individual good 
that we can jxissibly get. It is the quest to which we 
have ph^dged our lives. We call it indeterminate, so 
as to make it bigger, much bigger, than anything that 
we can see. I am a modern knight clad in Scotch 
homespun instead of nasty, clinking mail, and you are 
a modem gentle, clad, — let me see, — well just as a 
gentle ought to be. Instead of sitting at home in 
a high tow*'!' h-wk of a casement window, weeping 

3G3 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



your pretty eyes out lest some harm befall Sir Gala- 
had, you go along by his side, and together, sweet 
comrade, we go to seek the Holy Grail. Is it not 
so?" 

The pressure of Margaret's hand was my answer. 

" But we want everybody else to join in the quest and 
be just as happy as we are, and find life just as great 
a go. And we want this partly because our hearts are 
gentle, and God's love is in them, and partly because 
we see that the path of the quest for ourselves is the 
path of service. As we are not at all the hermit type 
of person, — except perhaps on the White Seal, — the 
greater part of our life is made up of our relations to 
other people, and to idealize our own lives we must 
idealize our relations with others. If we did not care 
about the neighbor for himself, we should still have 
to care about him and very genuinely, or else miss the 
Path. Then, too, there is another point. It is this : 
we breathe the social atmosphere of our time. No 
man can get much beyond his fellows. However clean 
we may keep our own house, we are open to contagion 
if our neighbor lives in filth. Every evil thing that is 
done in the world lowers the moral tone of the world 
by just so much, and makes our own lives so much 
the less ideal. On all sides there are reaction and 
social solidarity. Salvation to be complete must come 
to all." 

" It is a hard saying, that last," said Margaret, 
" and yet on the whole, I think I believe it. But 
what about the neighbor who has n't yet got the ex- 

364 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



cellence ? What becomes of your doctrine of equal- 
ity?" 

'' My doctrine of equality, my dear," I answered 
quickly. '' / never believed such a monstrous lie as 
equality. I believe, on the contrary, in the most ap- 
palling inequiility. There are thousands of men bet^ 
ter than I am " — " No, there are not," said Margaret, 
loyally — *' There are thousands of men better tlian I 
am, and there are millions not so good. I should be 
a precious hjTK>crite, if I said otherwise. We are 
travelers on the same road, the road from nothing- 
ness to God, and some have got further on, and some 
less far. The democracy that starts out with a He, 
the lie of calling us all equal, has nothing in common 
with aristocracy, or, for that matter, with common de- 
cency and truthfulness. One might as well go to a 
horse fair, and maintain that the plough-liorses and 
thoroughbreils were quite equal and must all fetch the 
same price. In practical matters of horseflesh, the 
world is not so silly. It knows the value of breeding 
and it knows the value of the superimposed training. 
It knows that it takes more than one generation to 
turn a plough horse into a thoroughbred. It 's when 
we come to theorizing that we get oflF our head. De- 
mocracy as formulated by ignorant doctrinaires is a 
falsehood from l>eginning to end. It starts in a lie 
and ends in a riddle." 

** What are you going to do about it ? " asked Mar- 
garet. 

** Well, I 'm going to stick to it, for one thing," I 
365 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



answered, " and I 'm going to try to make it rational 
and true, for another. Democracy needs the service 
of educated, temperate, disinterested men." 

'' And women," adds Margaret. She is now abnost 
as great a stickler for the rights of women as is my 
dear Charlotte. 

'' And women, surely," said I. " I meant ' man- 
kind,' when I said 'men,' and had no intention of 
omitting the superior sex." 

Margaret chooses to overlook this latitudinarian 
compliment, and asks seriously, " Have you any pro- 
gramme yet ? How are we to begin ? " 

The officer on the bridge still had his eye on us. 

"No definite programme, dear, in the sense of turn- 
ing things topsy-turvy. Of course we want ultimately 
to see all land and all necessary industries in the hands 
of the commonwealth ; and we want to see the total 
conversion and disappearance of the trading class and 
the trading spirit. But this does not come in a day. 
Meanwhile we are not disgruntled. The present order 
of things is not entirely bad. What we shall do at the 
Chateau de Monrepos will be to have sweet, human, 
helpful relations with our neighbors, and try to help 
on the socializing and humanizing of the world. We 
may not live to see the entire social programme, even 
such as we and our Fabian friends know it, carried 
out in either America or England, but all the same 
we can be lending a hand to those minor movements 
which lead in the right direction. That is what I 
most hope for, that we can be practical helpers-on 

366 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



of the better day, and not idle on-looking doctri- 
naires/' 

" Do you know, dear John, that for an idealist you 
are a very practical person," said Margaret mischiev- 
ously. 

'' For an idealist^'' I cried protestingly. " Do you 
not know that the most practical people in the world, 
in fact, the only practical people in the world, are 
idealists. The whole fight towards the better life is 
a fight for better and nobler ideas of life. The ob- 
stacles are mental, not brick and stone and wood and 
metal, but ideas. As soon as men want the better 
day, they can have it, without waiting for any fur- 
ther inventions of Edison's or Tesla's. You know 
that is so, Margaret. You are just trying to tease 
me. 

" Nearly so, at any rate, John. But I have been 
evolving a very definite plan of action for Monrepos. 
Shall I tell it to you ? It 's nearly as long as your 
Kentucky stories, though." 

" Go ahead, dear lady," I make answer, " I 'm 
listening with both my good ear and my game ear." 

" Well, it is this," said Margaret, with so much 
energy that I knew it was something more than a 
passing thought that I was about to hear. " I call the 
plan ' the township league.' It begins with the pro- 
prietor of Monrepos, a very cultivated and ])ul)lic- 
spirited gentleman " — 

" Thanks ! It seems to me that it begins with his 



wife." 

367 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



— " It begins at Monrepos," continued Margaret, 
" and gradually adds eaeli neighboring landowner 
Until it takes in the whole township. The purpose of 
the league is to make the best out of the township and 
the people, to carry out indeed the motto of the Cha- 
teau de Monrepos for the whole township. It begins 
with very practical bread-and-butter problems, such as 
what crops to raise, how to cultivate the land, how 
best to dispose of the produce. Then gradually it 
goes on to more subtle problems, such as beautifying 
the roads and commons, looking after the schools and 
churches, and seeing that there are no old people in 
want. I forgot to say that it would buy the supplies, 
the best, you know, and the most artistic, and deal only 
with firms on the white list. Indeed there would be 
no end to the possible activity of the league. It could 
be an active Providence in so many ways. It might 
even provide amusements, get up township balls, and 
start golf and riding and libraries, and have lectures 
and concerts. I have thought, too, that we might 
have good plays " — 

"With Mrs. John Percyfield, the Chatelaine of 
Monrepos, as the leading star. Bravo, I 'm sure it 
would be a go." 

— " And then," continued Margaret, " when we had 
broken down party and class lines sufficiently, we 
might take a hand in politics, and send you or some 
less worthy man to the legislature. Now tell me what 
you think of my programme. Of course the league 
would include men, too." 

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" I think it 's fine, Margaret, seriously I do, just a 
splendid idea," I said enthusiastically. " I think we 
should have to go slowly, especially when we touched 
on religion and politics. We might, perhaps, get 
some qualified person to help us, some one who could 
advise us about crops and markets, and act as purchas- 
ing and selliug agent for the league. It might l>e 
possible to get a graduate in social economy from one 
of the universities, a big-hearted fellow, who would 
go in for bettering the whole neighborhood and put- 
ting some of his pretty theories into practice. Really, 
Margaret, I 'm enthusiastic over the idea. It might 
be the means of lifting the whole township into a 
higher social life. When did you think of all this ? " 

Margaret blushed very prettily, and answered more 
demurely than was her wont. '' I thought of it, John, 
after our talks in the north tower, — while you were 
deciding whether you loved me or not." 

''Margaret, you witch, how is it that you know 
everything ? " I had taken Margaret's hands in mine, 
— the soldierly officer on the bridge might see us and 
welcome ; the sight would do him good ; — " how did 
you ever know that I was having such a desperately 
hard time to let my little ladylove grow up ? " 

Mai*garet looked into my eyes through those deep, 
fathomless brown eyes of hers, and said very gently, 
'* You forget, Jolm, that I was loving you all that 
time. Love makes one very wise ; " and then she 
added, a little ai-cldy, "and it was n't so very difficult 
to see, either, John." 

3C9 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



And I made answer, " Sometimes, Margaret, I feel 
that I don't deserve your love, I was so slow and 
stupid. But this at least you must know, that how- 
ever much you may love me, I love you fully ten times 
as much." 

" It would be impossible, you great boy," said Mar- 
garet. '' You don't know yet how deeply a woman can 
love." 

I think that Margaret is right. I cannot under- 
stand yet how she came to love me, for I do not seem 
to myself to be lovable. But that is the marvel of it. 
If any one can teach me, Margaret can, Margaret and 
my own great love for her. 

It was the last day of our voyage. The low Long 
Island coast came slowly above the horizon as the 
herald of America. The White Seal had steamed along 
at such good speed that now she was under increased 
pressure, so that we might make New York that 
night. Fire Island Light was passed early enough in 
the day to set everybody packing up, and to bring 
the customary apprehensiveness to the stewards about 
their fees. It was a race with the sun. But October 
days are short, and the sun beat us. Just as we were 
steaming into the Narrows, the sunset gun at Fort 
Hamilton proclaimed that the day was spent, and we 
had to come to anchor off quarantine and wait for the 
morning. We were not expected until the following 
day, so that I knew the dear Charlotte and Frederic 
would not be uneasy. But it was difficult for me to 
keep up any show of patience. Margaret and I went 

370 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



up on the top deck. As I looked towards the city, 
and saw the lights gleaming from the tall buildings 
around the Hattery, I knew that farther uptown, in 
one of the many hotels, Cliarlotte and Freileric were 
waiting, and the thought of seeing them again made 
my heart thunij) riotously. 

What a magnificent harbor it is I I do not know 
how it affects foreignei*s, but at sunset, and when one 
has been on the other side of the Atlantic for over a 
year, it seems the very most beautiful harlx)r in all the 
world. It is America. It is home. 

Margaret and I did not go down to dinner until 
very late, and afterwards we hurried ba<*k to our 
favorite i)erch. The night was mild and beautifid. 
We drank in great draughts of the sweet air, the air 
of this fresh western world of hope. The low Staten 
Island hills passed into the shiulow. The sunset glow 
above the Jersey marshes faded into a clear yellow 
brilliance. The dainty crescent moon shone pale and 
clear against its luminous background. Eroni the en- 
circling cities came the twinkle of myriad lights. The 
lamj)s on the Brookl}'n Bridge made a long flat arch 
of light, spanning the darkness. A nuiltitude of little 
Imats, with their advisory lights of red and green, 
darted here and tluTe across the wati»rs. The illumi- 
nate<l signs of the railways on the ,It^rscy shore gave 
the appeanince of permanent lK>nfircs. As the dark- 
ness deejM'ned and the giant buildini^^s of Manhattan 
outlined themselves in light, we seemed to l>e looking 
at a city set ui)on a hill. Nearer at hand, the tireless 

371 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



right arm of Liberty was holding her torch aloft for 
all the world to see. 

It was a marvelous night, that home-coming of 
ours, and Margaret and I were profoundly thrilled by 
it. We sat there in the starlight until very late, not 
talking, but only breaking the silence occasionally 
with little exclamations of wonder and delight. 

The next morning Margaret and I were up very 
early. We had had our breakfast and were walking 
up and down the deck. The inspection at quarantine 
was over, and they were getting the ship ready to 
steam up to the city. I noticed a jaunty little yacht 
making its way towards the White Seal, and giving 
shrill little whistles by way of notice. There was a 
great fluttering of handkerchiefs from her tiny deck. 
I felt a touch of envy for those of our fellow passen- 
gers who were to be so promptly welcomed home. 
Margaret, too, was watching the yacht. She clutched 
my arm eagerly and cried out, " It 's Charlotte. Oh, 
John, it 's Charlotte, and that must be Frederic. 
And there 's Peyton. I don't know the other peo- 
ple." 

We were at the ship's side in an instant. What a 
shout went up from the tiny yacht, and what a shout 
Margaret and I sent back ! 

There was the dear Charlotte, a trifle stouter and 
more matronly than when I left her sixteen months 
before, but looking just as sweet and pretty as ever. 
There was Frederic, as proud and handsome as a 
young father could be, and near at hand, somewhat 

372 . 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



frif^htened by all the uproar, was a very small pcrso*^ 
in the hands of a large and consequential bhuk nurse, 
I had never seen this small person before, but I knew, 
of course, that it must be my morsel of a nephew. 
Near them stood Peyton. The thn)b in my heart 
told me that he was still my little brother, my Endy- 
mion. At his side, and already friendly, was the dear 
musiciiui, the two men whom 1 love the l>est in all the 
world. But the most unexpected of all was ray aunt 
Percyfield, so little severe and such glad affection in 
her face that I could scarce believe my eyes. She 
and the very small person seemed to be on very good 
terms with each other. I looked from one face to the 
other, quite beside myself with joy. We left Aunt 
Viney on board to look after our luggage until I 
should join her at the pier. Our good fi-iend the 
captain had a convenient stairway let dowTi at the 
side of the ship, and so Margaret and I passed from 
the White Seal into the arms of the best and dearest 
relatives that ever a man had. There was little cere- 
mony, I assure you. In my delight at seeing Char- 
lotte and Peyton and the others, I almost forgot the 
baby. As a rule I don't like babies. They are ugly, 
squirming little things. But it does make a difference 
when tliey are in the family. This one looked so 
comically like the dear Charlotte, that quite unbidden, 
I kissed the morsel on some part of its tiny face, and 
ultimately made quite as much fuss over it as an uncle 
is expected to. 

IIow good it was to be with all my people again, to 
373 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



have Frederic give me his sturdy, cordial handshake, 
even to have my aunt Percyfield press her birdlike 
kiss against my cheek. And Charlotte, bless her, put 
her arms around Margaret and me at the same time, 
and made our eyes fill with tears at the warmth of her 
love and her welcome. It was good to see Margaret 
and Charlotte together, and to have Charlotte call me 
" Kin " once more. At last I got around to the other 
gentles, to Peyton and the musician, and it was al- 
most as good to see them together as it was to see 
Margaret and Charlotte, for they are my two best 
friends, my friend of the South, and my friend of the 
North. Peyton is tall and beautiful and distinguished- 
looking. He must be twenty-six now, but he is still a 
beautiful boy. He has the same heavenly blue eyes 
that he used to have, and when 1 looked into them, I 
did what I always knew I should do, I put my arms 
around him and called him " Little brother," and I 
kissed him on both cheeks, the way the burly Ger- 
mans do. It was so good of Peyton. He remained 
North after the Beauregards had left their cottage at 
York Harbor, just so that he might welcome Mar- 
garet and me back to America. The musician is a 
shy, reserved fellow, but we understand each other. 
When I pressed his hand and called him " Old fellow," 
it was as good as a caress. The musician and I have 
been friends so long that I cannot remember a time 
when I did not know him. And in all these years we 
have never had a quarrel, that is, never but once, and 
then the quarrel was characteristic. It was about the 

374 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



value of one to the infinite i)Ower. One maintained 
that it was indeterminate and the other that it was 
unity. But in this matter the musician was all wrong, 
though he is a far better mathematician than I am. 
He agrees with me, however, about ahuost everything 
else, even about my wonderful six-string piano. The 
ordinary instrument, you remember, has three strings 
for each note above the bass, and the three strings are 
tuned in unison. But in my remarkable piano there 
are six strings for each note, three of the strings 
being in unison to represent the fundamental, and the 
other strings sounding the three harmonics, that is, 
the first octave, the succeeding fifth, and the second 
octave. I devised this scheme of enriching the notes 
so that my piano might have more of that human, 
touching quality that so delights one in the notes of 
the violin. You may recall that I have had to defer 
my violin-playing until my next incarnation, for I 
don't believe that the psychic power of Mademoiselle 
Werner and the faithful drill of Madame Martigny 
and the perseveringness of Mr. John Percyfield, all 
combined, could teach a man, now almost thirty, to 
play the violin. I shall have to go in for it when I am 
younger. If you are at all curious about my piano, 
you can get the effect of a single note by striking tha 
middle C on your own, rather firmly, with your left 
hand, and at the same instant, but more gently, the 
next C and G and second C above the middle note 
with your right hand. You will get a richness of tone 
quite in excess of the ordiiuiry naked note. 

376 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



So I floated up to New York on a greater flood than 
ever swept through Gedney's Channel, on the flood 
of emotion that overwhelms a man when he comes 
back to his own country and his own people. 

When we got up to the city, I had first to extricate 
Aunt Viney from the White Seal and pack her oflf 
to Philadelphia. Then I had to get our luggage 
through the custom-house, a process which is ordina- 
rily rather vexatious to the spirit of an out and-out 
free-trader like myself, and must be somewhat humiliat- 
ing to those protectionists who descend to lying when 
the principle is applied to their own small purchases. 
But yesterday nothing short of a personal mishap to 
Margaret or to the dear people I had just regained 
could have touched my high spirits. They seemed to 
be contagious, too, for the inspector was less imperti- 
nent than his office sometimes makes him. After 
that, we all had luncheon together at the Brevoort 
House, an old-fashioned place, but quite sacred to us 
because my grandfather Percyfield used to stop there. 
In the afternoon we came over to Philadelphia, and 
the two-hour ride in the comfortable parlor car that 
got into motion at Jersey City and only came to rest 
in Broad Street Station was such a delight that it 
seemed to be just about a quarter of an hour. At the 
station, all too soon, there was a general scattering. 
Peyton had to leave us to take his express train for 
New Orleans. It grieved me to say good-by, after 
such a short glimpse of this best of friends, but Pey- 
ton promised to visit us as soon as ever Monrepos was 

376 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



ready for its house- wariiiing, and also to see much of 
us when Margaret and I went to New Orleans later 
in the winter. The musician took his train out to 
Chestnut Ilill, but he promised to spend next Sunday 
with us. Otherwise, I think I should have detained 
Inm by main force. 

Then the rest of us all came out to Uplands. It 
wiis quite dark when we reached Green Tree Station, 
and I could not show Margaret anything of the Ches- 
ter Valley or of our lovely Pennsylvania fields and 
woodlands. PomjHjy was at the station with the old 
yellow-bellied coach that has been in use as long as I 
can remember, and both of its lamps were ablaze with 
imiK)rtance. It was a part of the Percyfield formality 
that Margaret should ride in the family coach. My 
aunt Percjrfield and I rode with her, while the more 
accustomed members of the family had to put up with 
the lumbering hack which had been bespoken at the 
livery. A cart full of luggage completed the proces- 
sion. This was only last night, but it seems a week, 
even a month ago, for when you first come home time 
seems to loiter in order that you may crowd into it all the 
new and delightful impressions which constitute the 
joy of coming home. Or is it that time has no fixed 
content and is measured only by what you put into it. 
After our Bohemian life in Euroi)e, Margaret and I 
were curiously conscious of the old-time atmosphere 
about my aunt Percyfield and the provincial formality 
of our first hours at Uplands. We liked the flavor of 
it, but we had to get used to it. Although it was too 

377 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



dark for me to show Margaret our part of Pennsyl- 
vania, there was no such hindrance when we came to 
Uplands. The house was ablaze with light from the 
front door to the garret. Flowers were everywhere. 
The best of the family silver and china adorned the 
dinner table. Uplands was at its bravest. It was 
the Percyfield welcome to a beloved bride. 

Margaret and I had not expected this, and we were 
much touched by it, though I thought at once that I 
might have known that Charlotte would have it so. 
But when I asked Charlotte about it, she said that it 
was all my aunt Percyfield's doing and that she her- 
self was as much surprised and gratified as we were. 
There was indeed an air of suppressed excitement 
about my aunt Percyfield that quite baffled me. I 
had never known her to be so affectionate. Though 
she had never seen Margaret before, she quite vied 
with Charlotte in trying to make my dear bride feel 
entirely at home. 

The dinner was a delicious affair. For democrats 
we had what might have seemed to our Fabian friends 
an undue amount of service, but it would have been 
simple cruelty to have kept either Pompey or Susan 
or Aunt Viney out of the dining-room. They shared 
the Percyfield joy. When at last the dinner was over, 
and these faithful old servants of ours had been for- 
cibly driven out of the room by a touch of my aunt 
Percyfield's old-time severity, the cause of her own ex- 
citement was gently and modestly disclosed to us. It 
was a great thing that my aunt Percyfield did last 

378 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



night, a very great kindness, and quite worthy of the 
blood which made my grandfather Pereyfield the most 
courteous and generous of men, — my old kinswoman 
has given Uplands to Margaret and to me, and she 
brought us out here not as her guests, but to our own 
home. 

I have bjeen in possession for a day, but still I 
hardly realize the truth of it all. This dear old place, 
where I was bom, where I have always lived, which 
is sacred to me through a thousand memories of my 
mother and my grandfather Pereyfield, is our very 
own, Margaret's and mine. It is to be the home of 
my manhood, the home where Margaret and I are to 
work out the problem of our individual and social life, 
the home where our children are to be born and nur- 
tured. It seemed too great a gift. I hesitated to 
accept it. But Charlotte, too, and Frederic, both wish 
it. They must needs spend the greater part of the 
year in town, as Frederic's profession demands it. So 
they joined my aunt Pereyfield in overcoming all my 
scruples. They tell me that a John Pereyfield has 
always been master at Uplands, and that so honorable 
a tradition must not be set aside. And much else 
these dear, unselfish people tell me to reconcile me to 
this great happiness. My aunt Pereyfield simply de- 
clines to hear of anything else. She says that Mon- 
repos is an outlandish name, and that Hereford Hall 
and Marston Manor are not much better. She had 
given me small chance to refuse, for she took the pre- 
caution to buy herself a small house over near St 

379 



JOHN PERCYFIELD 



Davids, and her modest establishment is already under 
way. She says that Uplands is too large a place for 
an old woman to keep up properly and that she will 
be much happier to see Margaret and me here, and 
our children, and that already she is much attached to 
her little place over at St. Davids. But in spite of all 
this brave show, I know that it has cost my aunt Percy- 
field something dear to give up Uplands. 

When I had a chance, I asked Charlotte privately 
what had come over my aunt Percyfield, if she is ill 
and likely to die, for my aunt Percyfield was formerly 
a severe and not altogether agreeable old gentlewoman, 
and I cannot understand the change. Charlotte an- 
swered gravely that it was the baby who had brought 
about the change, and that my aimt Percyfield had 
been quite a different woman since the baby came and 
much more like my grandfather Percyfield. I guess 
Charlotte saw the twinkle in my eye at this astoimd- 
ing piece of information, for she added almost re- 
proachfully, "Other people say the same thing, 
John." 

The conceit of these young mothers passes all be- 
lief. But it was too good to be with Charlotte again 
to do any immediate teasing, and very naturally we 
spoke of Margaret ; this is a perfectly safe subject, for 
one cannot fall into the superlative. Charlotte was 
enthusiastic enough to satisfy even me. She put her 
arms aroimd me and said, " Kin dear, what a lovely 
sister you have brought us. I shall love Margaret 
ahnost as much as I love you, you dear old fellow. I 
380 



THE GREAT REPUBLIC 



wish that mother and grandfather Percyfield could 
know/' I resolved then and there to praise the baby 
as much as I honestly could. Charlotte is just the 
dearest sister in the world. Just then a feeble wail 
reached our ears. Charlotte was oflf in a flash to look 
after her small son, and I went to seek my aunt Per- 
cyfield and to try to tell her what was in my heart. 

This morning, Charlotte and Frederic and the small 
boy and the large nurse all went into town, and my 
aunt Percyfield drove back to St. Davids. They have 
all promised to come for dinner on Sunday, the small 
boy giving his assent by a gurgling noise intelligible 
only to the devoted Charlotte. 

And Margaret and I are alone at Uplands. We 
have not even had our trunks unpacked. We have 
done nothing that sober-minded householders ought 
to do. We have been two children again, and have 
spent the time wandering over this dear old home of 
my ancestors, this still dearer home of Margaret's and 
mine. It has been a perfect October day. The Ches- 
ter Valley is more beautiful even than I remembered 
it. It has the glory of the autumn upon it, and brood- 
ing over all the fields and woods and fannhouses 
there is the full richness and peace of accomplished 
work. Margaret and I have been into every field in 
our large domain and have loitered along the paths in 
the chestnut woods that I know so well. We liave 
followed the little stream to its source high on the 
hill, the little stream that gives us such a plentiful 
supply of good soft water at the Uplands manor-house 

381 



JOHN PERCYTIELD 



and barns. We have explored the garden together, 
and have visited all the animals. Indoors, we have 
been into every room and cupboard in the house. We 
have watched the sunset from the western porch. 
And now it is the gloaming, and our first day at home 
in America is spent. 

Pompey has made us a generous fire in the large 
living-hall. Margaret and I are sitting before the fire 
on the old settle where my mother used to tell me 
stories of angels and knights. Margaret rests her 
head against my shoulder, and the sweet-smelling 
chestnut hair brushes against my face. In my arms, 
I have the angel and at her side I mean that there 
shall always be the knight. Margaret puts her arms 
around me, and clings to me with that yearning ten- 
derness which always makes my heart so f uU. Then 
she whispers to me, " John, how good God has been 
to us." 



382 



RlectrotyPed and printed by H. O. Houghton &* Co* 
Cambridge^ Mass.^ U.S. A,